COPS Initiative will aid GPD

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) announced last week that a Senate subcommittee has approved a number of important projects in Alabama, including special priority consideration for federal funding that will be given to the Greenville Police Department.

As Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee, Shelby said, through a released statement, the approval of the legislation is vitally important to Alabama and the rest of the nation.

&#8220This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” Shelby said. &#8220The subcommittee's action on this bill reiterates our commitment to funding these projects and advancing important nationwide initiatives.”

The legislation gave approval and priority to several state agencies, including the Greenville Police Department, through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS.

All together, last week's announcement included $810 million for state and local agencies, with $538 million of that money designated to the COPS initiative.

Greenville Police Chief Alonzo Ingram said he asked for nearly $1 million for in-car technological upgrades for the city's police cars, although it is uncertain how much of the requested money will be allocated to the Greenville Police.

Ingram said his department asked for approximately $943,000 in technological upgrades to the police cars, approximately $54,000 in wireless technology for the emergency-911 system and $150,000 for the school resource team, which supplies a security officer for Greenville High School and Middle School along with running the D.A.R.E. program.

Ingram said the money and equipment upgrades are urgent for the Greenville Police to be able to keep up with the times.

&#8220We live in a technological age where if you don't keep up, you are liable to get behind too far to where you can't catch back up,” Ingram said. &#8220In-car cameras are a way of life for police officers and they enhance the safety of each officer.”

Ingram said he should know by September or at the latest Thanksgiving just how much of the allocated money will be distributed to Greenville.

Dexter McLendon, city of Greenville Mayor, said although he doesn't know exactly how much of the requested money Greenville will actually get, any and all of it will truly be appreciated and put to a good use.

&#8220We're excited about receiving this information,” McLendon said.

Having cameras and computers in the city police cars is a vital component to the safety of Greenville, McLendon said.

&#8220Cameras in the cars provides safety for our citizens and our police officers,” McLendon said. &#8220The cameras help us sort out complaints and they help us look and see if we are doing our job correctly.”

The COPS bill includes critical funding for law enforcement to upgrade technology, such as in-car computers, cameras and communications systems. The funding also allows for assistance in bolstering forensics capabilities. The bill instructed the Department of Justice to give special priority consideration to the Greenville Police Department, among other police departments in the area.

&#8220Like any area of technology, things are constantly changing and it is important for us to keep our cars upgraded with the newest technology,” McLendon said. &#8220If you're not continually upgrading to make sure you have the best technology available, you're going to be left behind.”

Shelby said the funding should help our local communities deal with the challenges of today and of the future.

&#8220The COPS grant program aims to help law enforcement agencies implement and enhance community policing,” Shelby said. &#8220COPS funding assists law enforcement agencies across the country meet an ever-increasing range of challenges. The $538 million provided in our bill will allow police departments throughout Alabama to take advantage of these grants and increase their enforcement efforts to become more efficient and effective.”