HERMISTON - The Hermiston Police Department will receive $32,000 from the State Homeland Security Funding Grant to help purchase mounted laptops for police vehicles.

The laptops will help officers communicate with other first responders, and allow them to work on police reports out in the field rather than travel to the office to complete paperwork.

The new technology would mean officers could do the reports from their vehicles, he said, saving as much as 2,000 hours a year, or the equivalent of one full-time employee, said Hermiston Police Chief Dan Coulombe.

He said this funding will help the department outfit all 16 vehicles in its fleet with mounted laptops. The funding also will help pay for connection to the regional wireless broadband digital communications system (WiFi).

Emergency first responders will be the first to use the WiFi system in its 600-square mile coverage area, and will be used as a part of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program in case of a chemical emergency at the Umatilla Chemical Depot.

In the meantime, Hermiston Police are trying to upgrade their communication systems to best utilize the wireless broadband. Officers will eventually be equipped with handheld units also connected to the WiFi system for a quick connection to information and communication from anywhere.

The upgrade includes the mounted laptops in police vehicles.

"That will put us state of the art," Coulombe said.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced this week that $32.4 million in homeland security funding was awarded to 208 state and local government programs. Of that funding, agencies in Umatilla County received $78,591 and agencies in Morrow County received $78,700.

Umatilla Police Department, Boardman Rural Fire Protection District, and the cities of Milton-Freewater and Pendleton all received funds through the program for communication equipment, or to establish or improve a local volunteer base in case of a major emergency in the area.

The recipients in the state have until October to use the funding. All had to go through an application process for the funding. Ten agencies applied for the grants in Umatilla and Morrow counties.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded CSEPP about $13 million during the past year. The laptops and communication and technology upgrades, in part, are being funded through that pot of money, as well as a $10,000 local law enforcement block grant.

Federal funding

The following entities will receive funding through the State Homeland Security Funding Grant:

•Boardman Rural Fire Protection District $78,700 For emergency communication equipment and urban search and rescue programing

•Hermiston Police Department $32,000 For emergency communication equipment

•Umatilla Police Department $29,499 For emergency communication equipment and Neighborhood Watch program enhancement

•City of Pendleton $13,000 To establish emergency volunteering program, including equipment and training

•City of Milton-Freewater $4,092 To establish emergency volunteering program

Source: Oregon Emergency Management

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