Porterdale police vehicles to get computers
City council members welcome new Better Hometowns manager

PORTERDALE - Porterdale's police officers will soon have the benefit of state-of-the art technology after the City Council approved funding for the purchase of three laptop computers to be installed in police vehicles.

Councilman Mike Harper broached the subject of purchasing laptops for police vehicles at the council's regular meeting May 5. After discussion of the benefits of having the onboard computers and the associated costs, the council voted unanimously to allocate $4,000 for the purchase of three computers.

Police Chief Wayne Digby told council members that officers with in-car laptops can remain in communication with the county communications center throughout the duration of a call. They can also have quicker access to information on outstanding warrants and can even receive photos of suspects to help in the identification process. Dispatching calls to a laptop can also speed up officer response time, Digby said.

Digby estimated that each laptop would cost $1,200. Although Porterdale's police force has a total of seven vehicles, Digby said three laptops would be sufficient to start. The three will be installed in the police force's two traffic patrol vehicles and in the vehicle used by the canine officer.

The council also agreed to the purchase of a tire deflation device, such as Stop Stick, to aid in the apprehension of suspects. The devices, which are deployed in the path of a fleeing vehicle, puncture the tires and cause gradual deflation so there is no loss of control of the vehicle. The devices cost about $400 apiece, Digby said.

Porterdale will also install the tire deflation device in the canine vehicle.

In other news, the council welcomed Porterdale's new Better Hometowns manager, Sandy Fowler.

Fowler, a Newton County resident, said she is looking forward to working with town officials to continue Porterdale's revitalization efforts.

"I'm excited to be a part of Porterdale," Fowler said. "I've always been drawn to the mill and the historic town."

Better Hometowns is the Main Street program designed for Georgia's smaller cities and is administered through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Office of Downtown Development. According to the DCA, the program focuses on economic development through downtown revitalization, heritage preservation and restoring a sense of place.

Alice Queen can be reached at alice.queen@newtoncitizen.com.