Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office getting laptops for patrol cars
Computers have been around for decades. Laptops were invented in the 1980s and have been a household staple for a generation. Company-issued iPads and high-tech phones have become a part of issued office equipment for many people in the last decade.
But not the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office. Their officers have continued to conduct business without any computers in the patrol cars, despite the technological advances.
Beginning next year, that will all change. The Sheriff’s Office will receive 34 Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged Laptops, also called Toughbooks. They will go to Deputies with “marked units” and in sworn vehicles that have the need to access information from the internal computer system, called EDOC.
“The addition of this technology into our everyday workload will save time on the types of calls that just require searching or passing of information located in the EDOC system without returning to the Sheriff’s Office from their districts to do it,” Mike Lane, Caldwell County Sheriff-elect, and Patrol Captain Kirk Kuykendoll said in an email to LPR.
The Sheriff’s Office will also receive 21 laptops and monitors, VPNs, and hotspots, according to data submitted by the Caldwell County Grant’s Office.
The funding for the new computers is part of a Coronavirus Relief Grant. On May 11th, Caldwell County received notice from Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office notifying them that the county had been awarded $1.17 million in CARES Act funding.
Those funds will be used to reimburse the county for sanitizing equipment, PPE, and other pandemic related expenses at the Sheriff’s Office, as well as the three school districts in the county.
At a special session of the Caldwell County Commissioners Court on December 9th Caldwell County Grants Administrator Dennis Engelke asked the court to approve a $251,483.72 expenditure for 65 Toughbooks, 61 laptops and monitors, 61 VPNs, and 33 hot spots.
“We have now come to the conclusion that the Coronavirus Pandemic is not going away any time soon,” Engelke said. “We now recognize that the county must accept the fact that we must prepare for the continuity of county government business in an isolated and remote environment. Worst case scenario would be all key and essential employees may have to work from home.”
COVID cases have increased in the last month, and this week marked the first new death recorded in Caldwell County since October 28th. But as of press time, no work-from-home order has been issued by the county or the state.
With assurances that the money was guaranteed to be reimbursed, the spending was unanimously approved by the Commissioners Court.
For county employees it will make working from home, if and when necessary, much easier. But for the Sheriff’s Office, it allows them to join the 21st century.
“Once the equipment is in the vehicles/assigned to the Deputies it will bring us up to par with the way most of the departments around us have operated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the email from Sheriff-elect Lane and Captain Kuykendoll said.
They said the department had looked into technology in the past, but had not asked the court for the funding, “due to its cost and the financial needs of the County being greater than this need.”
Like most of us, the pandemic made the department reassess their priorities. With funding now available, now is as good a time as any.
With vaccines on the way, the light is beginning to appear at the end of the pandemic tunnel. These computers are a long-term investment and will continue to benefit the department well into the future.
“[They will] keep Deputies in their assigned districts longer and shorten response times to the calls they receive during their shifts,” Sheriff-elect Lane and Captain Kuykendoll said.