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Clayton commissioners to vote on police grants

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote next week on whether to accept several federal grants that could enhance the ability of the Clayton County Police Department to fight crime.

The board's agenda for Tuesday's meeting includes a vote on whether to accept a Project Safe Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Justice in the amount of $50,000. The money, according to Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner, would be used to purchase a "trip wire" real-time surveillance system, night vision equipment, laptops and protective vests for officers - all to monitor burglary-prone areas.

"This is a surveillance-camera system that is used for burglary suppression," Turner said. "Like a rush rob, where people are stealing flat-screen televisions three or four times, this system will go off and film what is taking place.

"We can put this system in a non-disclosed area, so bad guys won't have any idea of where it is and it is mobile enough to where it can be used anywhere in the county," he said. "This is another tool we will have in our belt to suppress burglaries."

Turner said the grant would require no matching funds from the county.

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners is also expected to vote on whether to accept an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. If accepted, the police department plans to use the funds to upgrade the communications equipment in its police helicopter, and acquire two replacement canine officers - along with vehicles for the canine officers' handlers.

According to Turner, funding for the grant comes from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 and will require no matching funds from the county. A public-comment session is scheduled to be held prior to the vote on whether to accept the grant.

Turner said the communications-equipment upgrade would allow helicopter pilots to better communicate with officers on the ground, which, in turn, will aid officers pursuing fleeing suspects.

"Their communication with the officers on the ground has been muffled and difficult at this point," he said. "With these upgrades, they will have clear communication with officers on the ground."

Turner said the two canine officers funded by the grant would replace one that recently died from a blood clot and another that was recently retired from the force.

Other items scheduled for votes Tuesday night include the appointment of a director of the Department of Community Development, the renaming of East Clayton Drive in Ellenwood to QuikTrip Way, and whether to transmit the draft partial update to Clayton County's Comprehensive Plan to the Atlanta Regional Commission for review.

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m., in the county Administration Building, 112 Smith St., Jonesboro

For more information, call (770) 477-3208.