The Friend Police Department is riding in updated style, thanks to organizational grants and donations from local community members.
The department has been working on acquiring grant money to update equipment in both vehicles, including a speed radar tracker, installed computer that allows the issuing of electronic citations and a state wide GPS mapping system to assist or request assistance on calls.
“(The GPS mapping) shows all law enforcement in the state and we can see where they’re at,” Friend Police Chief Shawn Gray said. “So if there’s a unit in Hastings that sees there’s someone on Highway 6 in Friend, he can send a message and say, ‘This is what I saw, keep an eye out,’”
The cost of the equipment was covered through grant funding from the Nebraska Highway Safety Office, Nebraska Crime Commission, the city and donations.
According to Gray, the e-citation equipment cost around $12,000, the radars were $4,200 and the in-car video cameras were an estimated $9,640 for both cruisers combined.
“The in-car video system has several capabilities that benefit the community,” Gray said. “It has the real-time aspect of the account and reduces the civil liability of the city.”
Gray said the e-citation computer system has been a huge time-saver for the department, as they were previously issuing citations by hand. Now, officers can scan a person’s driver’s license and it automatically inserts their personal information, like date of birth, eye color and address. The document then gets sent to the county attorney’s office almost immediately, making it easier for them to access.
“It helps with less time being on the road for both the person and the officer and it cuts down the cost of ordering note pads of citation papers,” Gray said.
With the new equipment in the vehicles, the cruisers have to always be running while officers are on duty so nothing overheats.
Gray asked that no one touch the equipment in the vehicles and if anyone has questions, he would be more than happy to explain why they are run that way.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for the amount of support we’ve been seeing,” Gray said. “Having a community that backs us in the profession we are in produces results, and that goes a long way.”