In an effort to make police operations more efficient, the city’s law enforcement agency is seeking funding to provide for new technology in all of its patrol cars.

Stephenville Police Chief Roy Halsell received unanimous approval from the city council last Tuesday in the form of a resolution to OK the submission of grant applications to the office of the governor and Texas Criminal Justice Division, with hopes that more than $157,000 will be awarded to the local police department.

“There are a lot of police departments and law enforcement agencies out there that have the equipment we’re trying to get,” said Halsell. “It sure would be beneficial to our officers and dispatch if we’re awarded the grants.”

The state grants, which are 100-percent funded with no match required from the city of Stephenville, will be awarded in August, said Halsell, who added that this is the second attempt by the department to receive funding.

Last year, the department submitted a grant to the governor’s office but was turned down, although local police did benefit from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant that allowed for the upgrade of police communications systems.

In a memo to City Administrator Mark Kaiser, the police chief says he is seeking grants to purchase a digital mobile video system, also known as dash cams, and laptop computer systems with electronic ticket writers.

“The digital systems have the advantage of saving video to a hard drive and making copies of DVDs as necessary,” said Halsell. “It is also easier for supervisors to review the tapes from a hard drive as required by racial profiling. The best advantage is that the digital videos are constantly recording so that when an officer activates the switch to save the video it gets about 30 seconds of video prior to activation.”

The police chief says the current VHS systems are six years old and are experiencing failures more frequently. “Officers are issued a VHS tape to insert into the recorder, but there is a risk of an officer losing or damaging a tape or the tape running out and not capturing the event.”

Halsell says he seeking $78,269 in funding for 10 digital mobile video systems and a digital evidence server, which will outfit the department’s entire patrol fleet.

“The benefit of the laptops is that officers would be able to complete most reports in the field and stay in their assigned areas, and improve the response times,” said Halsell. “The software used in records and dispatch can be expanded to allow interface with laptops so that the officers can send reports to the police department. It also has dispatch connectivity to allow a reduction in radio time, taking some stress of the dispatchers.”

Halsell explained that the laptops would also give officers the ability to request and search for information via the computers, making the process more efficient. “The electronic ticket writers would give officers the ability to digitally store tickets at the traffic stop and allow them to get the motorist on their way quicker. It would also store racial profiling data quickly and easily.

The grant application that will be submitted by the police chief is for $79,200 to cover the costs of the laptops and electronic ticket writers.

If awarded, Halsell said he should receive notification by August and funding the following month.