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Federal money to boost city police efforts

December 08, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Charles Town Police Department will receive $80,000 in federal funds to purchase high-tech equipment that will allow it to streamline operations and improve its crime-fighting ability, city officials say.

The funds, which will come out of the 2004 spending legislation that is expected to be finalized soon by Congress, will allow the police department to purchase an electronic booking and fingerprinting system, and laptop computers for 10 patrol cars, Charles Town Council member Matt Ward said in a news release.

The electronic booking and fingerprint system will be connected to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Center in Clarksburg, W.Va., and will allow Charles Town police to quickly obtain information about criminal suspects from national electronic information sources, the release said.

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The system also will allow officers to process arrested people in the city rather than driving to the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg, W.Va., a process that can take an officer off the beat for three hours, the release said.

"It's going to be a big time-saver," Ward said Sunday.

The laptop computers will give officers a number of advantages, including the ability to send information to the police station without having to stop there, which saves time, the release said.

The equipment is important because Charles Town, which is now considered part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, has seen a 200 percent increase in arrests and criminal investigations since 1998, city officials said.

The $80,000 grant was part of more than $42 million in requests for federal funding to pay for several major projects in the Charles Town and Ranson areas, including extending a MARC commuter line through the cities and into the Huntfield development.

The other projects include a $30 million funding request to pay for construction of a highway bypass near the western edge of Charles Town and Ranson.

Ward has said the cities may not get all the money they are requesting, but at least the proposals will help in formulating some long-term plans for the two-city area.

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