The Palo Alto Police Department could get new bullet-proof vests, tracking devices, Taser accessories and wireless equipment to improve communication during hostage negotiations as part of a state grant the city has recently received.
The department will get more than $105,890 as part of the state's Citizens Options for Public Safety (COPS) programs, which allocates funds to public-safety departments throughout the state. In the past, Palo Alto used these funds to bring in a canine unit and purchase new video-audio equipment and "electronic control devices," better known as Tasers.
This year, the Tasers once again feature heavily on the department's shopping list. About half of the grant would be spent on warranty and accessories for new stun guns, which the City Council approved purchasing last year. This year, the department plans to spend $53,000 for "the required accessories and warranties to properly maintain these devices." The department plans to buy 75 new Tasers, according to a report from the Police Department.
At the same time, the department is looking to invest in some new technology, including devices that will allow officers to electronically file citations. The device, known as "E-Cite," allows officers to "write the citation more quickly" and instantly send the citations to the courthouse. According to the staff report, this eliminates the need for records personnel to manually enter the information. The cost of buying five of these devices is estimated at $45,000.
Other items on the list include evidence-storage lockers ($20,000 for about 23 of them), GPS trackers ($6,000) and the ETGI WRAPS system, which according to the department creates a secure communication system between police commanders and negotiation supervisors during incidents involving hostages or barricades. The report from the Police Department states that in the past, officers have experienced communication problems during such incidents namely, "no secure and reliable ways for negotiation supervisors to maintain a real time communications with police commanders while monitoring negotiations with the suspect."
"This has resulted in delays and miscommunications which have a potential for negative consequences," the report states.
The new system is a "secure, wireless communications system which allows the team supervisors and police Command Staff to maintain constant communication and relay exigent events in real time."
The department also plans to spend $29,000 on 35 "rapid response plate carrier" vests that offer an "advanced level of protection from high-caliber weapons" and include space for storage of medical supplies, extra ammunition and other items "essential for an effective police response to an extraordinary situations."
The council is scheduled to sign off on the proposed list of items on Monday night.