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Tech officer joins Clanton force

Clanton police officers are training this week, but not with new firearms or patrol cars.

Instead, they are working at a desk, in front of a computer, learning about the department’s latest technology.

During the past year, the Clanton Police Department has earned two grants to help bring the department into the 21st-century.

The first helped buy new computers, servers and software as well as strengthen communications with E-911. The second grant of about $255,000 helped put laptops and Internet cards into virtually all of the city’s patrol cars.

Some of the changes had to be made. The state started requiring officers to file crash reports electronically in October. Tickets and other citations will have to be filed likewise starting in January.

Still, Police Chief Brian Stilwell said the upgrades are needed and are among his biggest accomplishments during his first year at the helm of Clanton PD.

“When all is said and done, we will be saving money and be operating more efficiently,” Stilwell said.

The grants will pay the salary of a new information technology officer for two years.

Neil Fetner, who worked previously as a sergeant with Jacksonville State University’s police, started in that role just recently.

Fetner worked this week on training the department on operating the new computers and software.

The laptops in the cars give officers several new tools. For example, they will see dispatch calls as they come in and have maps to use for directions instead of calling in street names or landmarks.

The technology will also record the cars’ location, speed and other data that supervisors can use to monitor patrols, Stilwell said.

The systems will also check accident and incident reports for errors and won’t let incomplete reports be filed to Montgomery.

New software allows officers to search state and other databases from across the Southeast for information like arrests.

It can also be used to track sex offenders.

“What we want to do is to be able to share information,” said Fetner.

The department recently started two new anonymous emails where people can send tips. Information about drug selling or use can be sent to narcotic@clantonpd.com.

Tips about ongoing cases or crimes can be sent to investigations@clantonpd.com.