County, city seeking grant for monitoring system

It could soon be easier for local law enforcement to keep an area under surveillance without the constant presence of a sheriff’s deputy or public safety officer.

In a briefing to Union City Council Tuesday evening, Robert Moody of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments said his organization is assisting the city in applying for a $10,506 federal JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) from the US Department of Justice. Moody said the grant will be divided evenly between the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Union Public Safety Department for the purchase of a shared monitoring system. The system will cost approximately $12,000 with the balance of the cost covered by matching funds from the budgets of the sheriff’s office and the public safety department.

Moody said the grant has already been awarded but a formal application must be made before the funds are released for local use.

“The Department of Justice earmarks these funds for the various jurisdictions of the state,” Moody said. “However, a formal application is required to access the funding. We have made that formal application to the justice department on behalf of the city.”

Moody said the funds should be released for use by the sheriff’s office and the public safety department within 60-90 days.

Union Public Safety Director Sam White said the system functions much like a burglar alarm, alerting law enforcement to criminal activity while also photographing the criminal or crimnals.

“If you, for example, have a house that’s being broken into on an ongoing basis, you can install the system there and it will alert you when a break-in occurs,” White said. “It does not give you live images, but it can take pictures as well as send out a silent alarm.”

White pointed out that certain locations in the city and the county have been repeatedly targeted by burglars. Surveillance is the key to catching these individuals, but White said conventional surveillance county tie down deputies and/or public safety officers for weeks waiting on the criminals to return or new ones to appear. He said the monitoring system will enable his department and the sheriff’s office to monitor such locations while freeing up deputies and public safety officers for other law enforcement activities.

Sheriff David Taylor said the grant will enable his office and the public safety department to better serve the community at little cost to the taxpayer.

“It is good equipment that we can share,” Taylor said. “Having a working relationship between the two agencies and sharing resources spares each agency the burden of having to acquire their own equipment. By getting this grant sharing the system we can do more to serve the people of our community without the added cost.”

By Charles Warner, Staff Reporter with The Union Daily Times