Sheriff’s Dept. to apply for grants for new equipment

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Chilton County Sheriff’s Department is hoping to apply for two grants totaling roughly $15,000 to help with the purchase of new equipment.

Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon requested on Monday that Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton sign two grant applications to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for higher-grade body cameras, laptops, printers and chargers for vehicles.

Shearon said Capt. Ken Harmon was working on a 2014 ADECA grant, which totaled roughly $6,900, and a 2015 grant, which totaled roughly $9,300.

Shearon also addressed commissioners about phone issues at both the sheriff’s office and the Chilton County Jail.

Shearon told commissioners the problem with the phone system has been a reccurring issue, and was wondering how the problem could be fixed.

“We need to do something about the phone system,” Shearon said. “They go out all of the time.”

County administrator Connie Powell said there was a “cluster” of things wrong with the particular system that is used by the Sheriff’s Office and the jail.

“One of the biggest challenges is wiring,” Powell said. “The fiber optic cable is not sufficient. The sheriff’s department and jail are on a totally separate computer system, and we are having to marry systems by switches.”

Powell said contractually, the county is obligated to the current system until May.

Powell suggested to Shearon keeping a log of when the phone system malfunctions so she could have a better record of when the system was failing.

“Right now, I don’t know when the phones go out so it would be helpful if we could pinpoint it,” Powell said.

Shearon said he also wanted to bring to the commission’s attention that he is currently short on manpower in the sheriff’s department.

“I know this is a revenue problem, but right now we are short on manpower,” Shearon said. “I am having to cut some of my part-times back to do what we have to do, but my thing is the safety of the people. We are doing everything we can possibly do, but we can only do so much. Society dictates what we do. We need more people, which I know means there needs to be more revenue.”

Caton told Shearon the only way the commission could give additional funds to the sheriff’s department would be to take it from a different department within the county.

“There is just no place to take the funds from,” Caton said.

Commissioner Shannon Welch said during the upcoming budget year he wanted to look at the sheriff’s budget first.

“The sheriff’s department has struggled for a very long time, and I think we need to take a long, hard, serious look at the department,” Welch said. “There is so much that goes on every day, and a lot of people don’t know what all the department deals with.”

Shearon said one issue lately is dealing with individuals who have mental health issues who are brought to the county jails.

“What is happening is a state mental institution will close, and they bring the people from those mental institutions back to the county jails for us to take care of,” Shearon said. “We are not equipped on how to deal with them.”

Caton suggested working with state legislators about the mental health issue.

“If the state closes a mental institution, then the problems come to the county,” Caton said. “We aren’t equipped with how to deal with those problems, so we need to work with our legislators on this.”

For more from Monday’s meeting, check a future edition of The Clanton Advertiser or