After Oak Grove Police cruisers have been overdue for equipment upgrades, the department has been hard at work for the last month upgrading in-car computer equipment, dashboard cameras and body cameras.

Oak Grove Police Maj. Victor Lynch shared that previously, the computer and dash cam equipment of several police cruisers were out of date and needed to be replaced in order for the department to do everything its patrol officers needed to do efficiently.

Lynch said the equipment is also important for the protection of both officers and the public.

"It's protecting the officer and the community by making sure the officers are doing what they're supposed to and it's showing that the community is doing what we expect them to do when it comes to dealings with law enforcement," Lynch said. "It's a good tool for us to have across the board, I believe."

OGPD has had the dash and body cam equipment over the last several years but have since become obsolete. So, just a month or so ago, the department was able to secure the funds needed for new, up-to-date equipment.

Lynch explained that the new system OGPD uses is called WatchGuard.

The system allows officers to use the dash cam system in the vehicle along with police body cams.

In the past, Lynch explained, body and dash cam were downloaded from the system onto DVDs, which was costly and more time consuming. With the new, upgraded system, all of the footage is downloaded on to USB drives.

The new system also added computers inside the vehicles in order for officers to access their citation systems wherever they may be.

"We also put computers in the cars so the officers can do a lot of their work from their cars and spend more time in the community instead of having to come back to the post to do their reports," Lynch said of the new computers. "

He continued to explain that over the last few years, after completing a call for service, officers would have to return to the department post in order to complete a citation or police report.

That would take individuals off the street, preventing them to continue to do their jobs within the community. Now, he said, officers can pull over on the side of the road and do what they need to do and also be vigilant, should they be needed for some kind of emergency.

"It also entails a couple things. With (an officer) sitting on the side of the road doing a report in their car, the community is seeing that police car," Lynch added.

"So, it's still working because somebody seeing that police car on the side of the road, they're going to slow down. The process is still working while they're still doing that report."

Currently, six out of the department's vehicles that the department is replacing the old systems on, have been upgraded. A seventh vehicle is expected to be upgraded by the first week of December.

However, along with those seven upgraded cruiser, OGPD has ordered three entirely new cruisers that will have the same up-to-date system equipped when they arrive at the department.

Once all of the seventh vehicle is upgraded and the three new cruisers arrive, the department will shift focus from improving technologically to making sure all of the officers are fully trained and making sure they are interacting with the community.

"We're where we need to be for now, especially with a department of this size," Lynch said.

"We're looking good, we have good officers. Now, we're just concentrating on getting them trained adequately and get them out there with the community and have them interact with the community more."

Reach Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra

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