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PD to get camera, computer upgrades

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Decatur Police Department will have new, operating cameras in all of its patrol cars by sometime this fall.

Police Chief Rex Hoskins asked the city council for an additional $50,000 to replace camera/computer systems in three vehicles and replace the camera and upgrade software in four others, after it was noted that cameras were not operating properly during the March 21 shootout with Colorado fugitive Evan Ebel.

“During the investigation of this event it was discovered that several of the video systems in the police units involved in the incidents were not working properly and did not record,” Hoskins wrote in a letter to City Manager Brett Shannon. “Officers had no prior knowledge that the video systems were not properly recording until the video was attempted to be retrieved for evidence. The video evidence that was missing would have played a very important role in the investigation of the events that occurred.”

Ebel, the primary suspect in the murder of the chief of the Colorado state prison system, shot a Montague County sheriff’s deputy and led a high-speed chase into Decatur, where he wrecked out and was killed by officers after firing more than a dozen rounds during the chase.

Hoskins’ patrol car was hit four times, and other agencies’ vehicles were also struck by bullets.

Hoskins noted that a grant application approved a few months ago by the city council will not be affected by the $50,000 appropriation.

“The grant is still going forward,” he said. “If we get the grant, we would still have to do this. It does not affect the grant whatsoever.”

Mayor Martin Woodruff noted that the council knew the city would have to come up with some additional funding, and Shannon pointed out that through the mid-point in the city’s fiscal year, at the end of March, revenues were up slightly, making the budget amendment possible.

“Some of this is 12-year-old technology,” he said. “I think it’s a reasonable request and a good idea, and in light of what happened in our community a few weeks ago, it’s fairly urgent.”

City Finance Director Brad Burnett noted that the item does not have to go out for bids, since it will be purchased off a state vendor list that has already been through the bid process.

The council also approved a variance for the Decatur Public Library so they can put up a CEVMS (changeable electronic variable message sign) at the top of their current monument sign at 1700 S. FM 51.

As with a recent similar variance request by the Sheriff’s Posse, city Planning Director Dedra D. Ragland noted that the underlying problem with the library is that the area where it is located is not zoned properly. If the zoning, which is currently C-1, were C-2 as it should be, the variance request would not be needed.

The library wants to replace a manual marquee sign with a slightly smaller electronic message board.

The variance was granted, and the zoning change – which could take up to 90 days – will get underway as well.

OTHER ACTION

The council also:

  • approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Fort Worth to allow Decatur residents to dispose of hazardous household waste;
  • approved a re-plat of 1.7 acres in the South Decatur addition from seven lots to 10 lots, as requested by David Fuller. The lots will be approximately 7,000 square feet – smaller than the city’s normal requirement of 8,400 square feet, but permissible in the city’s Infield Overlay District;
  • heard a plea, along with that re-plat approval, from adjacent property owner Ann Williams to do something about the “creek” at the rear of her property that floods during heavy rains due to a low-water crossing the city installed several years ago;
  • approved a request by James and Nancy Rosendahl for a special use permit to allow a private club and the sale of alcoholic beverages at Sean’s Barbecue at 401 U.S. 287;
  • approved proclamations declaring April 14-20 as National Library Week, and declaring support for National Public Health Week, the 6th annual Wise County Community Health Fair, the 3rd annual Decatur Cares Summer Feeding Program and observation of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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