Video conferencing at Catoosa County Courthouse

Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk discusses the benefits of the video conferencing equipment being installed at the courthouse during the May 7 Board of Commissioners meeting.

Catoosa County sheriff’s deputies will save on travel time in the future with county officials recently awarding a bid to install teleconferencing equipment at the courthouse.

On May 7, Sheriff Gary Sisk presented a quote for the work and equipment to the county’s Board of Commissioners and discussed some of the benefits the program will create in the long term.

“This is a piece of equipment from Progressive Communications. What this is teleconferencing equipment that we’re partnering with the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) with to put into our courthouse,” Sisk said.

Sisk says the main goal of the project is to cut out some of the extensive travel involved with getting state inmates to court.

“They (DOC) are installing these in all of the prisons in the state of Georgia to cut down on the need for me to travel all over the state of Georgia to bring prisoners back to court,” Sisk said. “On any given court term, we’re bringing 10-15 prisoners back to court. You’re talking it could be hundreds of man hours.”

Sisk added that there’s a housing aspect that’ll be addressed with the program as well.

“We’re also having to keep them here and we don’t get reimbursed for that time while they’re sitting here waiting on court,” Sisk said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as an arraignment hearing just for the judge to tell them what it is they’re charged with and that can be done over video conferencing.”

The program, Sisk said, will also involve some of the inmates being shuffled to nearby prisons that have the equipment to communicate with the courthouse rather than coming all the way to Catoosa County.

“They don’t have them installed at all the prisons, but they’re willing to move some inmates around to prisons that have them. It’s easier for them to move them in circuit than it is for us to have to go get them,” Sisk said.

Commissioners unanimously approved the equipment purchase at price of $11,972.38, with the expenditure to come out of courthouse renovation SPLOST from 2014.

Commissioner Charlie Stephens asked Sisk how much money the project might save his agency, but Sisk explained that it’s mostly about the travel and manpower expended.

“So this right here is going to cut down on your payroll?” Stephens asked.

“It’ll cut down on the transport and fuel,” Sisk replied. “As for payroll, those deputies would be working anyway, but now those deputies can stay home and help us protect the home front and not have to spend time out running all over Georgia. Not to mention the security aspect having to transport convicted felons all over the state — an $11,000 expenditure isn’t too much when you’re talking that kind of liability.”

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009.