Say cheese and walk a straight line

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By Scotty McDaniel

When the Shelbyville City Council created the alcohol tax, it did so with the intentions of using the funds to improve the police department's ability to deal with alcohol-related problems in the city.

Council member Mike Zoeller informed the council at its May 8 meeting that he has been working with Police Chief Robert Schutte to find the best use for the money. Together, he said they looked at what guidelines had to be followed for using the funds and came up with the recommendation that the police department and the city of Shelbyville would benefit most by using the money to purchase 11 new digital video cameras for the police cars.

"Some of the media devices have been in our cars for a while and are old to the point that manufacturers won't repair them anymore." Schutte said.

When installed, the Digital Ally in-car video system will entirely replace the car's rear view mirror and be able to record distant images outside the car or be turned around to monitor anyone in the back seat of the car. Audio will be recorded through a microphone clipped on the officer's belt.

"It's critical if we have a DUI stop," Schutte said. "The video is important to the case."

Zoeller and Schutte said the new cameras will offer an upgrade from the poor quality of images provided by the current camera technology in police cars.

The new cameras record high quality digital video to memory cards, Schutte said, making it easy to save video to computers and download them to DVDs.

"It's a lot handier to operate, easier to operate," Schutte said. "Just a quality product."

The cameras will be purchased with the alcohol tax money the city has already collected. However, not all the alcohol fees have been collected. Zoeller said they discussed the option of using the remaining tax money that comes in to purchase a new computer server system to store the video on, if such a purchase meets the established guidelines for the use of the money.

"I think the most important issue to most people is safety," Zoeller said. "I'm happy with the police and they're growing. I want to make it as safe as we can for the police and fire departments and make it easier for them to do their jobs."