Radford is using some of its remaining CARES Act funds to help reduce the risk of exposure law enforcement will have to those infected with COVID-19.
City council approved the allocation of $26,745 for e-ticketing systems at last week’s meeting, which will reduce the time officers interact with people at a close distance. The systems allow officers to scan a license into the system and print tickets at a much faster rate than they could be done by filling out the forms by hand.
City Police Chief Jeff Dodson estimated traffic stops will go from taking approximately 10 to 15 minutes down to four to six minutes.
The systems will be very useful to patrol officers after the pandemic is over as well, according to Dodson.
“Traffic stops are one of the most dangerous things that law enforcement officers do each day. We just never know what dangers could be awaiting that officer as he/she approaches that vehicle,” he wrote in an email. “Officers face dangers of being on the roadside and possibly being struck by passing vehicles. We have seen some of these recently along the Interstate.”
The funds will purchase 19 new systems in addition to the five the police department already use, ensuring that every patrol officer will now have the new equipment, according to Dodson.
Dodson wrote that in addition to safety, the systems will also allow officers to get back to patrol duties more quickly, and data is automatically uploaded to courts and records management systems, eliminating the need for manual entry by staff at the courthouse.
“E-tickets also eliminate handwriting errors or legibility issues, which could prove problematic if data is entered incorrectly,” he wrote.
Mayor David Horton said the council was glad to use the funds for something that will benefit officers and citizens alike.
“During COVID-19, the less face-to-face an officer has to have with an individual during a traffic stop, the safer it is for both,” he said.
The city has received approximately $3.2 million in CARES funds in two equal installments, according to City Manager David Ridpath.
All those funds — which were made available to help localities deal with the pandemic impacts — have to be used before the end of the year, according to federal guidelines.