BENTON - Grant funding through the Missouri Department of Transportation may help the Scott County Sheriff's Department better equip itself.
Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter met with county commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday to discuss the MoDOT grant and other opportunities for funding.
The program may contribute half toward three types of equipment for patrol cars Walter believes would be useful: cages, cameras and radar guns.
"I'd like to apply for some cages," Walter said. "Right now all we have is two." The department used to have more cages but they became obsolete over the years being incompatible with newer patrol cars.
Car cages cost just over $400 not including installation, according to Walter. "It's not that big of a deal - we could possibly do it ourselves if we had to."
He recommended applying for a couple cages to start with. "I'd like to outfit all of them, myself, but it's kind of expensive," Walter said.
Commissioner Jamie Burger said the cages are "something we need to look pretty hard at."
The sheriff said he would also like to see patrol cars equipped with cameras which can be set up to record whenever the emergency lights go on or continuously.
Walter said there is the possibility having the cars equipped with cameras could lower the county's liability insurance premiums.
The base price for a digital camera is $5,600 and the VHS tape cameras start at $3,000, according to Walter.
Adding in the microphone and tape guard and other features brings the price for the lowest-priced VHS camera up to $4,300.
"They're pretty expensive," Walter said.
The radar guns aren't as important because the department rarely does traffic control. "I think we wrote one ticket this year," he recalled, "and he was doing 96 in a school zone so I thought he needed a ticket."
Radar guns can, however, provide probable cause for a vehicle stop, Walter said. He recalled one instance in which a vehicle stop enabled by the radar gun resulted in the arrest of a person who had a car full of stolen car stereos. Walter said they would just need one of the cheapest models which cost about $1,600.
The MoDOT program will also provide 100 percent funding for overtime on special interdiction activities, Walter said.
Walter also reported he is applying for funding from the Justice Assistance Grant Program which will replace Local Law Enforcement Block Grant programs with a single mechanism to simplify administration for grantees if it gets congressional approval. JAG does appear in the president's proposed budget for fiscal year 2005.
"We applied for the grant and we have a public hearing Thursday," Walter said. He said he is applying for just under $16,000 to fund a Sheriff's Emergency Response Team.
Walter also reported on the jail. "The two things they asked for were phones and TVs," he said.
Phones are presently being installed by Evercom at no cost to the county as the county will split prisoner phone revenue with the company. Phones lines went in a couple of weeks ago and the rest of the equipment is slated for installation beginning June 13.
As for the TVs, Walter said he is waiting for money from concession sales at the jail to accumulate to make the purchase. "It's going to be their money," Walter said.
The sheriff said TVs can be a tool to provide incentive for prisoners to behave well, "but I'm not in any big rush - I've got better things to spend money on than TVs."
In other county business, commissioners reported the recent tire roundup was a success bringing in 3,000 tires that might have ended up in county ditches or road right-of-ways.
Bootheel Solid Waste District picked up 2,000 of the tires Saturday.