(Memphis) A year and a half ago, Mayor AC Wharton called for the technology to monitor police cars in Memphis.
The mayor’s request came after an officer-involved deadly crash killed two people and seriously injured two others.
Finally, Memphis police took some action and budgeted money for it.
However, one city council member says the money was there all the time.
Memphis police are among the last police agencies in the Mid-South to install GPS in squad cars. Germantown already has a system, as does Collierville.
This month, Police Director Toney Armstrong told city council members it’s time.
Armstrong said during a budget hearing, “If we’re looking for efficiencies, it’s a good time for us to invest in our department with technology upgrades. For instance, we have suggested the use of GPS and dashboard cameras.”
Armstrong describes a system in which video cameras record the officers’ activities during traffic stops and arrests, all the while allowing dispatchers to monitor their locations, even how fast they’re driving.
Mayor Wharton, who encouraged police to step up its time frame for installing GPS, said he’s glad the department is closer to having a system.
“It’s just that we’re getting ready to become more accountable. More efficient. Easier to find out where a vehicle is without even having to radio and ask the officer what his or her location is. We’ll know,” said Wharton.
Last November, more than a year after the mayors request, WREG questioned why it was taking so long to install GPS.
Armstrong told WREG he wanted to make sure the department found a system that would last. He also mentioned finding the money to pay for it.
However, Councilman Harold Collins says the money was there all the time – $2 million he says is in the city’s red light camera fund. That money is set aside solely for neighborhood watch, sky cops and GPS technology.
We asked if more than just the council knew about the money.
Collins said, “Absolutely. The director of finance knew. The chief administrative officer knew.”
Armstrong budgeted $385,000 to begin the installation process in 900 of the 1,500 police cars.
Collins says that money can be spent somewhere else. All the director must do is ask to use city money raised by red light cameras.
WREG will let you know when or if that happens.
WREG made at least four attempts to ask Director Armstrong when we might see the first squad car outfitted with GPS, but we never got an answer.