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Henry accepts public-safety grants

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

More than $256,000 in grant funding for Henry County's police department, and emergency management agency, will help in efforts to fight crime and respond quickly to emergencies, county officials said.

The Henry County Emergency Management Agency will receive $175,000 to help in the purchase of new equipment to support 911 operations and emergency-management activities throughout the county.

The grant will help Henry County stay on the cutting edge when handling emergencies, said Don Ash, director of the agency.

"Budgets are being hit hard," Ash said. "It [the grant] has given us an opportunity to do projects that normally would have been put on the back burner."

The funds will come from the U.S. Department of Justice on a reimbursement basis, said Ash. "Once the contract [with the Department of Justice] is done, we'll be able to start expending the funds," he said.

Ash said the agency will use some of the money to buy new conferencing equipment.

Henry County commissioners voted to accept the grant money Tuesday. They also voted to accept two grants for the police department.

Henry County Police Maj. Danny Butler said a $58,400 grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety will be used for the police department's HEAT Program.

The program is a DUI, speeding, and aggressive driving enforcement effort.

The Henry County Police Department has received the grant every year for the past five years, he said, adding that the money helps stretch dollars further in a tight budget.

Butler said an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for $23,399 will go toward the purchase of an automated license-plate recognition system.

"I've seen demonstrations of the system [and] it's really neat," he continued. "The College Park Police Department got one three years ago. I wanted one then, but we just didn't have the money."

The system, Butler said, will consist of a camera unit mounted on the light bar on top of a police cruiser. Data collected by the unit will be sent to the Georgia Crime Information Center to allow the county police department to compare databases.

The system will help the police department in efforts to recover stolen vehicles, enforce vehicle registration laws, and track vehicles involved in Amber Alerts, he added.