Sheriff's Department Updates Patrol Technology with GPS Units

July 22, 2021 - Sheriff Kevin Windham explained his goal during the July 21, Commissioners' Court meeting to install GPS trackers on all of the Sheriff's Department patrol units through a company called Samsara.

According to Sheriff Windham, the annual fee for the service is $2,543.80 at a monthly cost of $25 and change per vehicle, the second payment for the service on the second year will be $2,399.80.

"One of our concerns of course is safety, if something was to happen then we can locate you know, where our unit is at," said Sheriff Windham.

Sheriff Windham described how the patrol units can be located in real time to see their exact location, helping other officers to respond and assist an officer in need more quickly and efficiently without having to determine their location.

"Not only is it a safety issue, but it's also an issue that ensures that our patrol deputies are doing what they are supposed to be doing," said Sheriff Windham. "I want to make sure that our entire county is covered. I don't want them to get into a routine of just staying in one certain area over and over."

This new GPS system will allow for Sheriff's Department administration to review deputy patrolling activities. The Sheriff's Department has been utilizing two of the GPS units for over two months to test them, and that has demonstrated the value of the technology.

Commissioner Stevie Smith asked if the information could be viewed on a smartphone app, and Lt. Tanner Peace confirmed that is an available option, which could even be available to officers.

"It's come in fairly handy because, you know with the radios still down, if they're trying to get to a disturbance call one of them can call dispatch because dispatch has access to the GPS map as well and say, 'hey, how far am I from this person's location,'" said Lt. Peace.

Lt. Peace also stated it helps keep a detailed log of maintenance on the vehicle including when the engine is running, idle, mileage, gasoline, speed, and barometric pressure around the vehicle. 

Commissioner Smith asked about the security of this system and if unwanted individuals could gain access. Lt. Peace and Sheriff Windham said they couldn't and would have to be given access to the website by an administrator.

Sheriff Windham confirmed with Commissioner Roscoe McSwain the cost under the current budget could be absorbed by his department's budget.

A motion carried to authorize the payment of $2,543.80 for the first year of the GPS units with Samsara.

Abe Benavides of McCall, Parkhurst & Horton LLP addressed the court about financing by the New Hope Cultural Education Facilities Finance Corporation of health facilities located within Shelby County.

He explained the same resolution was before the court and approved in February of 2020; however, that transaction was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A non-profit entity is attempting to acquire nursing homes throughout Texas and Oklahoma, one of those nursing homes is located here in Center," said Benavides. "The New Hope entity is a conduit issuer, so they issue bonds on behalf of the non-profit entity. Part of that process is to get local approvals from a governmental entity, such as a commissioners' court with jurisdiction over where the nursing home is located."

Benavides stated they have to go through the same process for all 28 facilities, including the unnamed facility in Shelby County. He stated the approval is for the purposes of the Internal Revenue Service code to qualify the bonds as tax exempt.

"Those are bonds of the bar where the nursing home operator will be obligated for those bonds. Shelby County will not have any obligation with respect to the bonds or the facility. The approval today is just for the purposes of authorizing, letting them move forward to issue the bonds on a tax exempt basis," said Benavides.

A motion carried to approve the resolution approving financing by the New Hope Cultural Education Facilities Finance Corporation of Health Facilities located within Shelby County.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Pay weekly expenses.
2. Current Payroll.
3. GPS systems for patrol vehicles for the Shelby County Sheriffs Office.
4. Ratify resolution appointing County Treasurer Ann Blackwell and County Auditor Clint Porterfield as authorized signers for CD and MM accounts with First National Bank Wichita Falls.
5. Resolution approving the financing by the New Hope Cultural Education Facilities Finance Corporation of Health Facilities located within Shelby County.
6. $659 anonymous donation to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for medication disposal unit.