Police in Ga. want $22k video linkup

Chief Terry Sult wants to use a nearly $22,000 grant to purchase a video conferencing system

By Michelle E. Shaw
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — The Sandy Springs Police Department is taking a page from the television series "24" with a new piece of technology it hopes to have in place by winter.

Chief Terry Sult wants to use a nearly $22,000 grant to purchase a video conferencing system that could link the city with hospitals, private industry and other city departments, in case of an emergency. For instance, it could have been helpful during January's ice storm.

"This would allow us to communicate with the people we need to talk to more efficiently," Sult said. "It would be better than a phone call because if there were something we needed to communicate visually, we could do that."

Councilwoman Diane Fries questioned if the video conference equipment was the best use of the grant money, or if there was something the city needed more.

Sult said the equipment met the guidelines for funding under grant rules, where other projects might not.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant can be used only for specific projects, according to a memo prepared for the City Council.

The grant looks to fund projects that "enhance public safety and private sector communications and collaboration during times of disaster," according to the memo.

The grant allows nearly $17,000 for the purchase of equipment and $5,000 for installation.

Sult said the department is shopping for equipment that is compatible with emergency operations centers at major employers in the city, including Northside Hospital and UPS.

Once the project is approved by the grant committee, bids will be solicited on equipment, the chief said. That could happen in the next few months.

"We have to look at emergency management as a big picture," he said. "This equipment will help us do that in a real-time way, and alongside the people we need to be in communication with."

Copyright 2011 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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