Local News

Spring Lake police seek equipment upgrade

Posted October 11, 2009

— The interim chief of Spring Lake's beleaguered police force will ask town aldermen Monday for nearly $300,000 to upgrade communications equipment.

Gregg Jarvies, who once ran Chapel Hill police, is tasked with strengthening the Spring Lake Police Department, which was stripped of its powers in early May after the arrests of two senior officers.

While the department is under investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation and Chief District Judge Elizabeth Keever, Cumberland County sheriff's deputies are patrolling the town.

When officers return to the streets, Jarvies wrote in a memo, it is essential that the department switch to a statewide communications system and get new information-sharing software.

"We must be prepared to move into the 21st century with a modern, multi-faceted network that allows us to be a full partner with public safety agencies across the state," he wrote.

Spring Lake uses an 800 MZH radio system that new technology will soon render obsolete. Already, the old radio system is creating dead zones where officers can't get a signal – "a significant safety hazard for officers and the public," the interim police chief wrote.

Jarvies proposes arranging to use Cumberland County's connection to the VIPER system, which gives law enforcement statewide "the ultimate in voice transmission capability."

The VIPER network let Spring Lake officers training in New Bern talk to police back home, he said. "With the current radio system, we are often not able to transmit across several blocks," he wrote.

Jarvies also wants to switch to an information software called OSSI. The software enables law enforcement to share data across jurisdictions and is already used by Fayetteville police and the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Sitting in his car, an officer could use the OSSI software to look up outstanding warrants, suspects' pictures and the location of other officers, as well as file reports.

"Most of all, it increases officer safety by providing officers with fast, reliable data from law enforcement partners in over 130 North Carolina jurisdictions," Jarvies wrote.

Together, the new equipment and software would cost $292,000, Jarvies estimated. That's a "significant financial commitment," but by doing it, town aldermen would send the right message, he urged.

"An investment in state-of-the-art voice and data communications systems is a statement from the Board that it is committed to supporting a professional, well-funded and fully capable police force," Jarvies wrote.

A $39,000 grant could help the purchase, and Rep. Bob Etheridge and the Base Realignment and Closure commission are helping look for other funding.


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