Local police departments eye equipment, technology upgrades with grant funding – Observer-Reporter

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Windy. Snow will taper off and end this morning leading to cloudy conditions this afternoon. Areas of blowing snow. Morning high of 39F with temps falling sharply to near 0. Winds WSW at 25 to 35 mph. Chance of snow 90%. About one inch of snow expected..
Cloudy with gusty winds. Low around 0F. Winds WSW at 20 to 30 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Updated: December 23, 2022 @ 4:46 am

Staff writer
Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week that 220 law enforcement agencies throughout Pennsylvania would benefit from $170 million in grant funding, including several area police departments.
The grants are part of the Local Law Enforcement Support program, administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
Many of the departments benefiting from the program are hoping to modernize with new equipment and technology. In Washington, police Chief Dan Rush said their $442,500 grant will pay for new body cameras upfront rather than financing over five years.
That money will also go toward dash cameras for police vehicles and new in-car computers. Rush said they are also looking at getting a generator for the police station.
“We don’t have any means of backup power,” Rush said.
Rush described the department as “behind the times technologically,” and that the station is also in need of upgrades to its WiFi.
“This will allow the city, in the long run, to put off a tax increase to pay for some of this technology that is more than needed,” Rush said.
Similar purchases will be made at the Charleroi Regional Police Department, which received a $220,000 grant.
“We have some body cameras, but we want to upgrade and get newer ones. We don’t have any dash cams in our vehicles,” said Chief Chad Zelinsky.
Zelinsky added that they will also get new computers, and hope to implement an interview room outfitted with audio and video recording.
South Strabane Township was awarded $57,300. Chief Drew Hilk said it will be used to expand their network of traffic cameras.
“Those assist us with our criminal investigations,” Hilk said. “It has just been a very successful program. It has assisted us in multiple homicide investigations from other jurisdictions, multiple armed robberies and countless theft investigations.”
Also receiving grant funding is Monessen Police Department, which was awarded $268,570 for equipment upgrades.
While Uniontown police in Fayette County will also be getting cameras and computers with their $326,700 grant, they are also implementing a retention bonus for officers.
Chief Delbert DeWitt said those bonuses will be spread across two years and there will be three tiers depending on how long an officer has been employed. The first bonus will come after six months, and a second if they complete an additional year.
McDonald Police Department, which received $107,780, will also use the funding for a “Hero Pay” initiative.
Elsewhere in Fayette County, German Township police were awarded $250,000, and are also looking to purchase body cameras, dash cameras and upgraded computer systems.
Connellsville police received $49,022 for body and dash cameras.
Brownsville police Chief John Brant said his department will be able to outfit a new vehicle with a camera and computer when it arrives next year. The department received $54,415. They will also outfit another vehicle with the same technology, and are considering upgrading their radio system.
“For a while there were no grants out there. A lot of departments started to get behind on equipment because of that. This will be a big boost to our department,” Brant said.
Staff writer
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