Authorities prepare for new roles


Published: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 12:53 a.m.

In 2003, the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office are hoping an infusion of technology will make the job of catching criminals more efficient.

A portable laptop in every patrol car would allow officers to take reports in their cars and access past criminal histories at the scene of an incident, Alachua County Sheriff's Sgt. Keith Faulk said.

This would in turn mean less paperwork and possibly fewer times victims would need to repeat their stories to police. Officers also wouldn't have to call the communications center to check on criminal histories.

It will take several years to put them in all the cars because they're so expensive, between $10,000 to $15,000 each, Gainesville Police Cpl. Keith Kameg said.

The completion of the courthouse in the summer is being anticipated by the Sheriff's Office, Faulk said.

"We are adding 22 sworn positions," Faulk said. The existing courthouse will handle civil affairs, and the new courthouse will handle criminal cases.

Faulk said the Sheriff's Office also hopes the lawsuit Sheriff Steve Oelrich brought against Alachua County regarding funding for road patrols is resolved in 2003.

In the meantime, Faulk said he hopes 2003 is as good a year as 2002. There were no murders in the unincorporated areas of the county in 2002.

"I hope 2002 spills over into 2003 and we are as fortunate," Faulk said.

Gainesville Police believe the public will see the benefits of the work they've done in 2002, hiring and training new officers and preparing them for the annexation of part of southwest Alachua County into the city limits.

"It takes time, not only to assimilate them into the Police Department but to get them comfortable," Kameg said. "We knew when we started it was going to take some time. Now we've gotten to that state."

Now that GPD is fully staffed, they have increased their undercover patrols and will continue to do so in 2003, Kameg said. And with the possibility of another annexation off SW 20th Avenue, GPD will prepare for that in 2003, Kameg said.

"The department is doing well on a lot of fronts," he said. "We're getting used to being a significantly larger agency."

Kathy Ciotola can be reached at 338-3109 or ciotolk@gvillesun.com.

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