Hopkins County sheriff's deputies will soon have a state-of-the-art tool available that will bring a higher level of safety to the officers as well as instant access to computerized information.
County commissioners Monday morning authorized the expenditure of $75,000 for the service and for computers and ticket writers, thanks to a grant from COPsync.
A large grant from COPsync was integral to reaching the agreement with Hopkins County, according representative Cyndi McCrory.
“We are very proud to give Hopkins County over $100,000 in grant money from COPsync to make this happen,” she said. “We were very happy to do that. This will make a big difference in the officers’ lives and is also very economical and adds a lot of efficiency to an already efficient agency.”
Lt. Tanner Crump, Hopkins County Sheriff's Office patrol commander, brought the COPsync concept to the attention of the commissioners court.
“We've been looking for solutions that will help law enforcement officers in the county communicate better with each other and alleviate the workload for dispatch,” Crump said. “We feel like we have found a solution through the COPsync program and network. I think that it is definitely in the right direction to accomplish our goals for the future and to better serve the citizens of the county.”
The COPsync communications network is a system founded by law enforcement officers as a result of the death of a state trooper, according to COPsync spokesperson Alissa Kirk.
“That trooper did not know that the subject he was pulling over for driving the wrong way on an access road had said, ‘The next law enforcement officer that I encounter I'm going to murder,’” Kirk told commissioners. “Because the trooper did not know that, he got murdered while he was pulling that gentleman over.”
The COPsync program will put a computer in each patrol vehicle, and officers will be able to access nation-wide vehicle registration and crime information databases.
Crump said the ability to communicate instantly with other law enforcement agencies and with Hopkins County dispatch and Hopkins County officers is vital.
“Before, we weren't able to share information as quickly and information that is shared more quickly will keep the officers safe, respond to incidents more quickly. If we have a crime being committed somewhere else and then traveling into our jurisdiction, we will be able to respond more quickly,” Crump said. “Officers will be able to, when they make traffic stops, instantly know when someone is wanted, be able to run more vehicles to check the status of stolen. Overall, it makes the day-to-day operations safer for the officers from the aspect of information sharing.”
The new system will relieve some of the load on dispatch and communications officers who handle incoming 911 calls, dispatch county fire departments while handling law enforcement-related communications traffic and at the same time, answer general calls coming into the sheriff's department.
The system will also have GPS capabilities that will enable dispatchers to know the exact location of all officers at any given time.
Hopkins County has also adopted COURTsync, which will enable access to warrants and class “C” misdemeanor available to officers on the COPsync system.
McCrory said a number of area law enforcement agencies are already using the network and the program will also extend to schools.
“We will also extend a similar service out to all of the schools, all of the ISDs in Hopkins County,' she said. “That is all going to take place in about a month.”
The systems for the schools will be under different contracts but will use the same basic network.