By KATE PRAHLAD
Jonesborough police have a new partner in fighting crime.
Thanks to a Homeland Security grant of $52,000, the department was able to purchase 10 smartphones and the accompanying software.
Jonesborough is the smallest police department in the state to use the PDAs. The department began using them Sept. 1, to mixed emotions from officers, said Jonesborough Police Maj. Natalie Hilton.
Its something new, she said. When youve done something handwritten for so long, it becomes easy.
Hilton said using the PDAs has reduced traffic stop times from 10 to 15 minutes to somewhere around five minutes.
While TBI lab requests and evidence paperwork is still handwritten, most other forms like citations, crash reports, and tow tickets are now done electronically.
It just frees [officers] up to drive around and patrol the area more and to be more visible, Hilton said. When youre stopped at one stop for 15 minutes, you cant be two places at once. They can get around to more places.
Officers enter electronic reports into one system from their smartphones and the reports are then approved by a supervisor. Once approved, the report is imported into another system, which sends it to the state.
Hilton said the switchover has also lessened the impact on dispatchers, who used to have to enter the report once into the local system, by hand, and then again into the state system.
Reports are also sent out to victims or other individuals involved a lot sooner, Hilton said.
Once the officer submits the report and the supervisor approves it, the dispatcher can print it out and it is handed out to the victim or person involved, Hilton said.
Instead of waiting seven to 10 working days for a report, the public can now expect to receive reports in the mail within three to five working days, she said.
Administrators with the Washington County School System were at the school all morning to ensure the safety of all students and keep order at the school.
As a school system, we want to do the right thing and follow all the laws, said Assistant Director James Murphy. We want the kids to exercise their rights to peaceably protest, but we could consider this a disruption to the school.
Following the morning election, school administrators tallied the votes and let the student body know the male student was not elected as a finalist for Homecoming Queen.
Protesting students were informed of the outcome moments later and were asked to disperse. They were given the choice of going back to class or going home.
If the children are going to be suspended for anything today, well deal with that on Monday, Murphy told the protestors and some of their parents, who had been at the school all morning. Lets let some peace settle in for now.
The voting results were a relief to Cilley and her fellow protestors.
Im happy with how it went. Our voices were heard, she said. Im going to go home now for the day. Im not worried about being suspended because Im proud of what I did.