Sylacauga, Pell City police departments will receive grants

Chief Kelley Johnson (left) and the Sylacauga Police Department and Chief Paul Irwin Jr. and the Pell City Police Department will receive grants of $24,000 for the purchase of new equipment. 

PELL CITY -- Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that the Sylacauga and Pell City police departments were awarded grants to help purchase new equipment and upgrades.

“With access to up-to-date equipment, officers can perform the often-challenging job of law enforcement and protecting residents more effectively,” Ivey said. “I am pleased to assist these cities and police departments in their efforts to serve their communities.”

The cities of Sylacauga and Pell City will both receive $24,000 grants.

Sylacauga police Chief Kelley Johnson said his department will use the funds to purchase 30 Taser weapons, which are similar to the shape of a gun, along with holsters, battery packs and Taser cartridges.

“It’s a less lethal weapon made by Taser,” he said.

He said the Taser stun guns look different from officer’s normal side arm. The Taser weapon is a bright yellow color to help prevent confusion during a confrontation. It is also worn on the belt, on the opposite side of an officer’s sidearm or pistol.

Johnson said the department applied for the grant in September 2017. He said matching funds of $10,000 are in the current budget.

Johnson said patrol officers will carry new Tasers, and there are extra Tasers for officers who are on special assignments, like click-it-or-ticket campaigns or roadblocks and special events such as high school football games.

Pell City police Chief Paul Irwin Jr. said his department’s grant moneywill help purchase equipment for a new case management system that enables the department to track crime reporting and share evidence and intelligence with other law enforcement agencies.

“It’s a record management system,” he said.

Irwin said the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office also has the system, so the two agencies are able to share information.

Irwin provided an example of how the system could work: a Pell City police officer arrests a suspect wearing a gold watch. The officer then checks the “record management system” and discovers there is a report by the sheriff’s office of the same person suspected of the theft of a gold watch.

Irwin said the officer would contact the sheriff’s office to see if the watch was, in fact, the watch that was reported stolen.  

Irwin said the system is also going to make it easier for officers to complete incident reports.

“This is good news,” said City Manager Brian Muenger.

He said the City Council set aside funds for the record system in the current budget.

“This grant will pay about 50 percent of the cost,” Muenger said. “It was something that we were going to have to do with or without the grant money.”

He said the current software the Police Department is using is outdated and is not supported by the state anymore, so this purchase was a necessity.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Justice.

ADECA manages a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, infrastructure upgrades, recreation, energy conservation, water resources management and career development.