Infrared upgrade recommendedNew cameras and old database topics in annual police report
Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman gave a report on some things the police department has been working on in the past year at the Washington City Council’s meeting Wednesday.
The police have video cameras which they wear on their body. Goodman said they work well during the day but not as well at night. He recommended the police upgrade to infrared cameras. He said the cameras are an “invaluable” tool in court.
One problem the police department faces is antiquated record-keeping. When police tend to a call, they write a report about the incident. They turn that written report over to secretary Rhonda Hill, who types all of that information into a computer.
Goodman said there are a few problems with the police’s record database. One is that it is not searchable. For instance, he said that if the police wanted to learn how many burglaries occurred in a specific time-frame, they had no way to find out except to count them manually. He said new databases contain a search engine that will tell police almost anything they want to know, and can even generate maps showing where crimes have been committed.
Another problem with the police database is that it is incompatible with the county’s database. In order for the county and city to share records, somebody has to physically re-enter the reports from one database into the other.
“Our personnel have to enter some things two or three times,” he said.
Goodman said there was a crisis with the county database in the last year when all of the data was lost. County personnel successfully restored all the data after working on the problem for a week.
Some residents have told Goodman they are afraid to walk through Central Park at night. Goodman said people do congregate in Central Park at night. He asked the council if it would like to forbid people from walking on the bandstand if they are not putting on some sort of concert.
Washington has two police on duty at all times, and Goodman said they are busy their whole shift, going from one call to the next with little down time in between. In light of their hectic shifts, Goodman asked how much effort the police should devote to enforcing ordinances such as the smoking ban in Central Park.
Goodman took the opportunity Wednesday to talk about the police’s use of Tasers. He said that not every office has a Taser, but every squad car is equipped with one.
He described Tasers as a “phenomenal tool” for avoiding harm to police and even to the subjects themselves. He spoke of an incident in which officer Seth Adam was attempting to restrain a subject, who was reaching for Adams’ gun and Taser. Adams pushed the subject away to allow officer Jamie Townsend to fire a Taser at him. Goodman said the subject was very cooperative with police from then on.
Councilor Bob Shepherd said he has heard that more and more people are resisting arrest and that Tasers are sometimes the only way to restrain such people.
Goodman said that people have died from being hit with a Taser because it raises the heart rate substantially. However, he insisted that in most cases those subjects have ingested large amounts of drugs or alcohol, which have already raised their heart rate.
Councilor Fred Stark said he was grateful to have the police present at every council meeting. He spoke about the incident in Mt. Pleasant in 1986, when then-mayor Ed King was assassinated at a council meeting. Stark asked Goodman to instruct the council about what to do in case of an emergency such as that.
In other news, Stark asked City Administrator Brent Hinson why the leaf vac was out of commission for a week and a half. Hinson said the leaf vac workers attempted to suck up wet leaves, the machine couldn’t handle it and the clutch broke. The clutch has been replaced and the leaf vac has been working fine for the past week. Mayor Sandra Johnson said the leaf vac is at least 18 years old.
Hinson said an in interview Thursday, “We are getting caught up on the leaves. We’re working Saturdays, and hopefully we’ll be caught up by the middle of next week.”
The council considered whether to approve the renewal of a liquor license for the Fourth Avenue Bar and Grill. Goodman said there was a major assault at the bar last week, but that the bar owners cooperated with the police. He said he did not feel there were serious recurring problems at the bar. The council approved the renewal of the license on a 5-0 vote. Councilor Mark Kendall abstained.
The council approved the 2012 pavement patching project, which will be done by Rodney’s Construction and cost about $75,000. Hinson said the project consists of paving the roads that were torn up to work on sewer mains. He said the city has had an extremely high number of main breaks, 45 last year and 32 so far this year.
The council also:
• approved the final plat of the Oakwood Village Subdivision;
• approved safety program manuals for hazardous communications and personal protective equipment;
• approved a list of strategic priorities.