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Bethune purchases software for PD

Posted: October 25, 2013 5:26 p.m.
Updated: October 28, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Bethune Town Council voted unanimously to purchase computer software for the town’s police department, currently consisting only of Police Chief Glen Davis. Council originally intended to discuss the software at its regularly scheduled meeting held Oct. 10, but chose to reschedule the meeting to Oct. 17 to give council members time to review the information regarding the new software.

According to a recording of the meeting provided by a Bethune citizen, Councilman Joe Casey presided over the meeting since it involved Chief Davis, Mayor Carlisle Davis’ son.

Chief Davis stated that the new software, Lawtrak, is what he prefers to use.

“Every small town in the state now is using this,” he stated.

“It’s expensive, but it is something we’ve got to have as far as I’m concerned,” Councilwoman Gail Farmer said.

The price of the new police software was never stated during the meeting, nor was it included on the town’s agenda. The C-I attempted to contact Bethune town hall for the information, but were unable to get a response.

Chief Davis noted that the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division uses Lawtrak.

“It will keep us out of trouble,” he stated, adding that it will “make sure all the money is sent to the state that’s supposed to be.”

Farmer pointed out that the training to use the software is included for Chief Davis in the price the town will pay. Chief Davis added that someone “will even come out to him to train him,” so he would not have to travel for training.

Another benefit of the Lawtrak software, according to Chief Davis, is that it catches the operator’s mistakes.

“If you put something in wrong, it red flags it. It won’t let you make a mistake,” he said.

Farmer commented that customer references on the software offered it a favorable review. Casey pointed out that the recently elected Judge Cody Mitchell will also be trained in how to operate the new software. He also asked if town hall’s computer equipment would need to be upgraded.

Town Clerk Gayle Rogerson said the computer “in the front office” would need to be upgraded so that it would have wireless connectivity. However, Chief Davis said the computer appeared to already have a wireless antenna. He said another positive feature of having the software is that it can transmit information automatically from a laptop in his vehicle to the computers inside Bethune Town Hall.

In response to a question from Casey, Chief Davis said he believes the wireless system is secure, but would have to check.

Farmer asked whether or not the software would “pay for itself.”

“My goal is to run this department without costing the town anything,” Chief Davis replied.

Farmer said council wants Chief Davis to have the right equipment to provide him safety.

Farmer also asked if the previous police chief, the late Larry Davis, owned weapons.

“If so,” she asked, “what happened to them?”

Chief Davis said that when he began working as chief “there was one gun that I wouldn’t trust my life to.” He said he is currently using his own $2,000 gun.

“The office doesn’t have handcuffs even,” he added, and said many people have a key to the office.

“So we have no accountability for what was there?” Farmer asked, but did not receive an answer.

Chief Davis did confirm for Farmer that he has a protective vest to wear. Council generally agreed that more weapons need to be available for police.

Casey also said council should look into obtaining a vehicle for Chief Davis, who said he prefers a Chevrolet Tahoe, but realized it would be very expensive to fill it with gas.

“A brand new Charger is another consideration,” Chief Davis said. “Right now I think they’re $23,000, but putting the equipment in it is another $10,000.”

Farmer suggested some Chargers may cost more than $23,000.

At that point, the discussion shifted back to the software request, which passed unanimously.

“With this software, it will do the assessment report that is supposed to go to the county. All we’ll have to do is print it and send it to the county,” Rogerson said.

Farmer added that having the software “will take out the room for error.”

Bethune will host a meeting of the candidates for town council and mayor Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Bethune Women’s Club, located at 200 King St., in Bethune.

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