Fort Oglethorpe data terminals

Fort Oglethorpe Police Chief Mike Helton explains bid details and the need for mobile data terminals in the city’s police vehicles during the July 8 City Council meeting.

Fort Oglethorpe’s police department will soon upgrade its in-car technology by implementing mobile data terminals to its fleet of patrol vehicles.

During the July 8 City Council meeting, Police Chief Mike Helton gave a recommendation for purchase of the new equipment after revealing the results of a recent bid process.

“It’s a current technology that’s common in law enforcement,” Helton said. “We went out for bid in April and had six bidders respond to our process.”

Helton said his team was able to meet with low bidder Howard Technology Solutions to condense down the cost and reach a deal on the computers.

“We were able to bring the prices to $73,162,” Helton explained. “We did go out to bid for a Panasonic Toughbook device or its equivalent, and this company provided an equivalent that actually has a newer processor, which our IT gentleman stated is a little more superior to a Panasonic Toughbook – so it’s our recommendation to buy 26 of these. This would outfit our entire patrol division, their captain, and our training officer where all would have computers in their cars.”

The council unanimously approved the purchase 4-0 in Councilwoman Paula Stinnett’s absence.

With the data terminals, Helton said lengthy or complicated reports can now be handled by the officers on site in their vehicles, and therefore cut down on some of the back and forth to the department at City Hall.

Nowadays, similar devices are commonplace in public transit vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, service trucks, and even taxicabs.

“The police department has been in need of mobile data terminals for quite some time,” Helton opined. “This will allow several things; for one, it’ll keep our officers on the streets and more visible to the public. It’s more of a crime deterrent if the officers can remain in their cars and not have to come to headquarters as much to complete reports.”

In addition to the bid for the computers, Helton explained that the department will also have to purchase the mounting hardware for the devices, which will be for 10 Dodge Chargers, six Ford Crown Victorias, and 10 Ford Interceptors.

Drug Task Force agreements

In addition to the mobile data terminals, the council also approved its annual memorandum of understanding with the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force and finalized title documentation on a vehicle.

“This MOU is a continuation of what the city has had with the drug task force for a number of years; it’s just the 2019 year,” Helton said. “There are no additional expenses with this contract.”

As for the vehicle, a 2015 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT, Helton explained the title issue simply gives the task force their vehicle back in full.

“In 2015, the city was still in the contract with the drug task force, and what they typically do is buy a vehicle and then provide one to the person you have involved with the task force to be able to drive,” Helton explained. “This vehicle was bought and paid for by drug task force funds and by the persons involved with that task force. They’re asking at this time that the title be signed back over by the city’s representative – it was purchased by them originally, but it’s been insured and titled by the city in that time frame. They’re going to replace it with a newer vehicle. They want to relinquish this one, and I think they’re going to use it in another city; Lafayette from what I understand.”

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

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