Louisville PD getting upgrades
By Leila Borders
On television crime dramas like CSI, viewers see police officers tracking suspects with GPS laptops in their cars, running fingerprints through a digital network to find instant matches and using high tech computers to catch killers.
Here in the real world, one typically finds a very different scene. The small but vital Louisville Police Department has operated for many years with a single desktop computer. There are no laptops in the patrol cars and fingerprinting involves a black ink pad. Very soon, however, the real world in Louisville is going to start looking a lot more like the high-tech fiction.
Thanks to a more than $650,000 Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant, the LPD will be getting a major technological face lift in the upcoming months.
From computers to radios, the grant will allow Louisville to have a state-of-the-art police department.
The LPD has been “in urgent and dire need of modern equipment,” according to the grant application.
“Our officers are charged with the mission of creating and implementing a community policing program, but are without the technology needed to get the job done,” the application reads.
Upgrades to patrol cars and the police station as well as new equipment for the betterment of the community are all provided for in the grant.
For the patrol cars, six laptop computers will be installed—one in each car—to enable officers to file reports in the field and access a range of information.
Each car also will have a digital eyewitness video camera installed that will record officers’ interactions with citizens who have been stopped.
In addition, four digital GPS cameras will be placed in the cars to take photographs of incidents and record the time and location of the photograph.
Narcotic field test kits and alcohol sensor flashlights will be added to the officers’ arsenal. These will allow officers to test suspicious substances in the field as well as determine if a person is over the legal limit for alcohol consumption.
Updates to the police station include the addition of 12 desktop computers and two servers that will allow the department to network with all other city departments, other Jefferson County emergency agencies and to crime records at the NCIC. A Live Scan palm scanner will be installed enabling staff to digitally record fingerprints rather than using ink. A video surveillance system will be installed in the station to record suspects during substance abuse questioning and testing. In addition, the department will purchase new records management software and hire a professional technology consultant and a consultant to map incident reports.
Also, all the communications equipment including mobile radios, hand held radios and base stations will be replaced with digital radios and base stations. Two smart model speed trailers that display the speed of passing cars also will be purchased to make violators aware they are speeding.
While the use of obsolete radios and only one computer was a large factor in deciding to apply for the COPS grant, the department truly discovered its technological weaknesses when a tornado hit Louisville at 6:45 on a Sunday morning in May. The tornado wiped out all communications power until late in the afternoon, leaving local law enforcement, EMS and citizens very little means of communication. Jefferson County was declared a federal disaster county by FEMA because of that tornado, which caused more than $500,000 in documented property damage in the city of Louisville.
In light of this disaster, part of the COPS grant will be used to purchase three tornado warning systems to be placed at strategic points around the city to warn citizens of an approaching tornado. Also, the city will purchase two backup generators to ensure constant power to all public safety offices and communications.
“We are very appreciative to John Barrow and his office staff for securing this money,” said Don Rhodes, Louisville city administrator. The grant will be applied in stages over three years.
Salute to our veterans
A wreath (at left) donated by Glascock County Historical Society was placed at the monument to those who died in war. The monument is at the Glascock County Courthouse. The ceremony was held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day. The historical society also donated flags to be placed on graves of veterans in Glascock County.
Rev. Don Lumpkin (above) speaks to veterans and others at a Veterans Day ceremony in Jefferson County. The ceremony was held at 11 a.m. at the cemetery in Wrens on Veterans Day.
Stapleton police chief
By Carol McLeod
In an incident last week that could have turned deadly, Stapleton Police Chief Tim Taylor was threatened by a suspect with a gun and pushed onto a road in front of a car.
“We’ve been having a lot of car break-ins and he was a suspect in the break-ins,” Taylor said.
Tyrell Antonio Lane, an 18-year-old from Augusta, has family in Stapleton, Taylor said of the suspect, and was on the corner of Easy and Main streets when Taylor spotted him.
“When he saw me, he walked south on Easy Street and went past me,” Taylor said. “I went on to my office and ran a check on him through state crime databanks and found out he had an outstanding warrant from Columbia County on him.”
Taylor said he was in his patrol car and at 2 p.m. again saw Lane on the corner of Easy and Main streets.
“I pulled up next to him and got out of my patrol car,” the chief said. “He immediately started saying, ‘I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything.’ At the time, he had both hands in his pockets. I asked him to remove his hands from his pockets several times.”
Taylor said about the fourth time, Lane took his left hand out of his pocket and removed a black T-shirt he had hanging around his neck.
“He draped the T-shirt over his right hand as he was taking his right hand out of his pocket. At the time, I could see what looked like the impression of a gun but I wasn’t sure,” Taylor said.
“He could have been pointing his finger. I asked him several times if he had a gun. He would never say anything. He kept saying, ‘What did I do? What did I do? What did I do?’ Whatever was in his hand, he pointed it at me. With my left hand, I got his hand and pushed it away from me. He had turned halfway away from me from me pushing him,” Taylor said.
Lane swung back toward Taylor and it was then the chief could see Lane did have a gun.
“It was a .380 semiautomatic,” Taylor said. “I withdrew my weapon and kept repeating, ‘Drop the gun.’ He never would. That’s when I hit him over the left eye with my gun. He went halfway down on one knee and tossed the gun in the grass area, along with the T-shirt. Then he stood back up and I told him several times he needed to come over to the car. He started pushing me into the roadway. A car missed me by about two feet.”
Taylor said his back was to traffic but Lane was facing the road.
“He could see what was going on,” Taylor said. “I couldn’t really see what was on the roadway. I was able to wrestle him to the ground.”
By that time, two bystanders came up and held Lane so Taylor could put cuffs on the suspect.
“I got the handcuffs on him and saw he was bleeding from where I hit him with the gun. I immediately called for a county investigator, the GBI and an ambulance.”
Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, arrived on the scene, Taylor said. When the ambulance arrived, Lane refused medical treatment.
“I took him to the hospital and he refused to get out of the car,” Taylor said. “I got him down to the jail. The jailor saw the wound and I explained he refused medical treatment. The jailor called the staff nurse and again he refused medical treatment.”
Taylor left Lane at the jail, the chief said.
“Agent Joe Brown from the GBI came down and interviewed everybody involved,” Taylor said.
Taylor, who said he wasn’t injured, said the GBI will investigate his use of force to determine if that was justified.
Special Agent in Charge Gary Nicholson of the GBI’s Thomson office said Monday they were still investigating Taylor’s use of force in the arrest.
“We don’t make the determination. That would be made by the district attorney. Once we complete our investigation, it will be turned over to the district attorney,” Nicholson said.
Lane has been charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm in commission of a crime, criminal use of an article with altered identification and felony obstruction of an officer.
Citizens react to historic election
By Leila Borders
In the 100th anniversary year of the founding of the NAACP, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America. He is the first African American president this country has seen in its more than 230-year history. Across the country and around the world, Obama is being hailed as progressive and energizing, and here at home the community seems to be embracing the change.
“I think he’ll be best for the economy and the country,” said Charles Gibbons, major for the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department. “He may have to readjust some of those priorities that he has promised people, but overall he may be able to help this country gain some respect in the worldwide community.”
Gibbons was not the only citizen concerned about the country’s status in the world.
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“Our country is in bad shape. We have an economic situation. We have two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think this whole idea of America being a model for the world has vanished a bit,” said Gardner Hobbs of Wrens. As the first African-American principal of Wrens High School in 1970, Hobbs also offered his thoughts on the historical aspect of this election.
“I think it’s a dream come true. It’s about time. I think it gives African-Americans a lot of hope,” he said.
“I never thought I’d see a black man elected President. I thought I would not ever see this happen in my lifetime, and I thank God that he kept me here long enough to see it,” said Gibbons.
Tim Taylor, police chief of Stapleton agreed. “I wish that my grandparents could have lived to see this day because they came through an era when blacks couldn’t vote and women couldn’t vote. I just wish they were alive to see this day. I think if he’s successful in office, it will open up a lot of other doors for African Americans,” Taylor said.
“This gives our children hope. Our children need to know that if they apply themselves and get a good education that they can become anything they want to be, even president of this great country,” said Bobby Butts, Board of Education member for District 4.
“In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people,” Obama said in his acceptance speech in Chicago. Many people in Jefferson County say they believe the president-elect’s words.
“I think it’s amazing that we have come so far in such a short time to elect a person of not just one minority but of many minorities,” said Karen Lewis, retired teacher and member of the Republican Party in Jefferson County. “He’s not just African-American, he also represents other nationalities and other people. If anything, he represents all of America. He’s all of us rolled into one. It’s historical and it’s cultural and it’s simply amazing,”
“I think the media saw him as not just being a black man but a man that was really truly on a mission to make our quality of life in this country and for everybody improve. And that’s why he’s the president,” Gibbons said.
“I don’t think he’s going to be the type of person to do things for one ethnic group, I think he’s going to do things for all people. He came during an era of time having a black dad and a white mom and I’m sure he got ridiculed a lot and I think things were hard for him through that time. I think a lot of our past presidents came into wealth early on. I think he knows what the struggling people go through and I think he can relate more to it than someone who is rich. I think he can relate to any man that’s out here working,” Taylor said.
“I’m looking for a change when it comes to a divided people in America. I’m looking for all people of races to come together and unify as one and become a united nation to address the problems that are facing today,” said James Ivery, president of the Jefferson County chapter of the SCLC.
Though he has fundamental differences with the president elect’s platform, John Lewis, president of the republican party of Jefferson County, still had positive thoughts about Obama.
“I think it’s great that he’s elected. I think he’s articulate, very bright, and a likable man. And, he will be a good president,” Lewis said.
Others in the county simply are amazed at the unprecedented outcome of this election.
“Wow. That’s it, that’s my reaction,” said Bill Evans, warden of Jefferson County Prison.
“The people have spoken. It’s a new page, a new administration,” said Mickey Moses, Jefferson County solicitor.
“He’s just like anybody else, a politician is a politician, and he’s got a pair of big shoes to fill,” Gibbons said . “I believe in the American way and in America, but we have a long way to go. I see a little light at the end of the tunnel.”
In a county where the school system was released just this year from a 1969 desegregation lawsuit, 4,138 citizens voted for an African-American president. That long way to go seems to have gotten shorter in this small Georgia community.