Updates coming to Cass County Sheriff’s Office

Published 10:27 am Monday, September 21, 2015

From as simple a task as printing up a traffic ticket to assisting officers in coordinating massive search and rescue operations, technology is an essential tool for the crime fighters of the 21st Century — including those who guard the streets of Cass County.

The men and women of the county sheriff’s office will soon receive an upgrade to some of their digital equipment, as the Cass County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to purchase more than $100,000 worth of technology to assist local deputies.

These upgrades will benefit both those on patrol in the field and those on guard duty at the jailhouse.

First, the board approved the purchase of more than $38,000 worth of brand new equipment from CDW-G, Inc., based out Chicago, for the sheriff’s offices fleet. This price tag includes new Panasonic ToughPad tablet computers to replace laptops currently installed in nine police vehicles, said Cass County Information Systems Director Kerry Collins.

Due to the change in form factor, the county will also be purchasing new mounting equipment for the installation of these devices on vehicles’ front consoles, Collins said. These new mounting brackets will allow officers to rotate and position the tablet devices into landscape or portrait screen orientations.

“We have to be very conscious on how we install these tablets in the vehicles, because they have to be compatible with airbags,” he said. “If you have a laptop in a car that gets in the way of airbag deployment, it can push that into the officer, creating injuries or worse.”

In addition to replacing older equipment, the new tablets will assist the sheriff’s office as they move toward a new computer aided dispatch, records and jail management system, Collins said. One of the benefits of this new system is that officers will be able to electronically submit traffic ticket information to the local courts, right from after issuing a citation to the violator.

“Prior to this, the courts would have to manually key in that information,” Collins said. “With this new system, they’re able to just import it into their system.”

The funds for this project will be taken from various accounts through the sheriff’s office, the director said.

The board also approved the purchase of over $66,000 worth of upgrades to the security card key system at the Cass County Jail building, which, after 10 years of service, is nearing the end of its service life, Collins said. While the actual card readers installed at the facility will remain intact, the hardware and software that controls the access system will all be replaced.