By Joe Beck
Three area police agencies will be receiving funds for crime fighting equipment, Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli announced Wednesday.
The items to be purchased include a tactical robot for the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office, a mobile surveillance van for the Warren County Sheriff's Office and laptop computers for use in patrol cars in Woodstock.
The money is part of $33 million distributed statewide in response to grant requests from police agencies. The money was obtained from $115 million in criminal asset forfeitures resulting from the settlement of a Medicaid fraud case against Abbott Labs in 2012.
Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron said he was "very pleased" with the $250,616 his department received, the highest amount in the area.
"We asked for $250,216, and we received everything we asked for," McEathron said. "We're very pleased with the Attorney General's Office."
Part of Warren County's money will be spent on 16 mobile vision in-car cameras, the kind that provide videotape that sometimes pops up on TV newscasts or YouTube showing unusually dramatic or controversial police traffic stops.
McEathron said the Sheriff's Office already has six or eight patrol cars outfitted with the cameras.
"They assist law enforcement in traffic stops and are a tool for safety, obviously," McEathron said of the cameras.
Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said the tactical robot, outfitted with video and audio equipment, can be used to enter buildings suspected of housing methamphetamine labs, dangerous suspects and other potential hazards to law enforcement officials.
"It just limits the direct exposure of personnel," Proctor said of the robot. "You can send that into a structure and find out the level of danger."
Shenandoah County's list of planned purchases from its $107,000 grant also includes a kit that allows for collecting material at crime scenes and determining on the spot whether it contains human DNA.
Woodstock Police Chief Eric Reiley said his department will be using its $40,855 grant to equip seven patrol cars with laptop computers that allow officers to perform tasks such as checking criminal and driver histories and writing reports.
Reiley said the goal is to have officers spending more time patrolling the streets and less time filling out paperwork at police headquarters.
"It's going to increase the officers' efficiency and give them more time to go out and do more proactive patrols," Reiley said of the laptop acquisition.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or email@example.com