Byrd bill could pay for aerial photography, tracking system

August 09, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE
  • William Roper

RANSON, W.Va.--A $16 million appropriations bill for West Virginia, the last one proposed by U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd before his death, includes $435,000 for the Ranson Police Department for a high-tech aerial photography and tracking system.

The money, if approved by the full House and Senate, covers nine requests ranging from $300,000 to $4.3 million. The money would be spent by state colleges and universities, counties, communities and nonprofits on a variety of projects.

The grants would come through U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's office.

Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in a press release announcing the appropriation, said he was resubmitting Byrd's bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee in honor of his late Senate colleague.

"Senator Byrd selected these projects after significant discussions and consultations with citizens, organizations and government entities," Rockefeller said in the release.

He said all of the requests might not be funded because of the current "budgetary climate."

William Roper, chief of the Ranson Police Department, said Monday that he is confident his grant will come through.


"Sen. Byrd always looked out for West Virginia, and he's still doing it after his death," he said.

Roper said the money would pay for 3-D aerial photographs that will pinpoint all areas of the city for police response to criminal activity and emergency situations.

With the new technology, when officers receive a 911 call about an incident, they could, on computers in their cruisers, get a detailed description of any building involved, its location and the quickest route to the scene, Roper said.

The description will be highly detailed, showing a house or other building, its color, how many stories it has, the landscaping and what vehicles are parked near it, he said.

"Everything will be a lot more detailed," he said. "This will mean a faster response."

Responding officers will know a lot more about what to expect before they reach the scene, Roper said.

"When police get dispatched by 911, the person who called in the report can be in a state of distress, confused and often gives a poor description of the scene," he said.

The grant would pay for the aerial photography and laptop computers that will be installed in every cruiser, the chief said.

He said the aerial photographs can be used by other jurisdictions.

Officers would be trained by representatives of the company installing the system.

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