Police, Corrections Departments Receive Grant To Improve Technology

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- The Topeka Police Department and Shawnee County Department of Corrections is splitting a $76,479 federal grant to improve security and technology.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justic Grant will be used primarily to focus on preventing and controlling crime with updated technology.

The money awarded to each city or municipality that applies for the grant is determined based on the city's size and how the crime rate affects its population.

The grant is given so that the city and county will split the money evenly.

The police department will use their $38,239 half to purchase Taser Axon Flex body-worn video systems, which officers will wear to record interactions between cops and citizens. The video will then be analyzed.

Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller said the system reduces complaints to nearly zero and reduces the use of force, because people will know they are being recorded. The body-worn video devices are better than in-car cameras because it provides the cop's perspective while interacting with citizens. Miller said the department has already done some field testing with the cameras.

"It has been very successful," Miller said. "It's a really good recording device for the interaction between citizens and police officers and we want to expand that use."

Miller said these efforts will directly benefit the community.

The Department of Corrections will use their half to update its camera, intercom, alarm and recording systems and software.

Corrections Director Brian Cole said updating the control center will reduce blind spots and make a safer environment for staff, the community and inmates. It also makes the partnership with the police department stronger because police an also use the updated security devices for investigative purposes.

"Always being ablet o stay up on the best technology possible allows us to maintain our obligation of safety and security, which is our main goal," Cole said. "Having that good technology is tremendously valuable to our partnership."

A public comment session was held Thursday, 5:30 p.m. at the Topeka Law Enforcement Center to inform the public of the funding and departments' plans for use.