The never-ending job of fighting crime and making the community safer was made a little easier for the Thatcher Police Department on Aug. 8 with the addition of a new police cruiser, digital cameras and other upgraded equipment.
“We appreciate what the Thatcher PD does; they have always been very cooperative,” Director Richard Fimbres of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said.
Fimbres said the task of fighting crime and serving the community is already hard enough, but the right tools and technology can make the job much easier. The highway safety department awarded Thatcher PD the new cruiser for that very purpose, he said.
The cruiser, which will be used mostly for DUI-related offenses, was given to Thatcher PD in early August and has an updated computer system and a digital camera with an upgraded video system. The new system automatically initializes the officer, time, date and location.
“With the older system, officers had to retrieve background information such as driver’s licenses, plates or criminal records from dispatch,” Sgt. Everett Cauthen said. “Now, we can look all of that up on our computer system inside of our patrol car.”
According to officer Scott Mulleneaux, the Mobile Dispatch Center is linked to a computer system called Spillman that is regularly updated by Graham County. It keeps all reported activity, criminal or civil, at the fingertips of each officer in the entire Gila Valley.
All traffic stops with the new cruiser will be recorded and reviewed, if necessary, to validate accurately what occurred between the officer and civilian.
“Someone came into the department and filed a complaint against one of our officers saying the officer was using profanity and mistreating him,” Cauthen said.
The tape of the incident was then reviewed and proved that the accused officer did not swear at or mistreat this person during the altercation, and the complaint was dropped.
“Eventually, we will have this digital system in all of our vehicles,” Thatcher Chief Mike McEuen said.
A $13,000 grant was recently awarded to the Thatcher PD that will fund two more radar and digital video systems for two patrol cars, McEuen said.
“We will also be receiving a mobile van for DUI support in September that can record someone’s intoxication level and a number of other things,” he said.
Sgt. Shaffen Woods said the number of DUIs is actually down in Thatcher from last year, as are collisions.
“Our department actively participates in the southeastern Arizona DUI Task Force Deployment, which trains officers in DUI enforcement,” Woods said.
The Safford Police Depart-ment also has several vehicles with the new radar and digital camera systems, and it is gradually getting each of vehicles equipped with the same system.