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Tupelo, Miss., Police Move Forward With Tech Upgrades

Hoping to catch more technologically advanced law enforcement entities in the state, Tupelo officials have given the city's police the go-ahead to pick the elements necessary to create an advanced monitoring system.

(TNS) — Hoping to catch up with more technologically advanced law enforcement entities in the state, Tupelo elected officials have given the city's police department the go-ahead to pick the elements necessary to create an advanced citywide monitoring system.

Tupelo City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday for the police department to take the first step toward purchasing multiple pieces of equipment and software needed to create the city's real-time command center. The $1.6 million project will provide the city's police department with a wealth of technological upgrades, including real-time surveillance software, body and vehicle camera upgrades, drones and license plate readers.

"(The software) is an electronic net that will be put over the city. It won't give people tickets if they run a stoplight," Chief John Quaka said. "It does multiple things, but the most important thing is it ties in all of these pieces of equipment, so they are connected. It gives us real-time intelligence that we can act upon immediately. That is the key."

Rather than use a traditional sealed bid process to purchase the equipment, the city opted to make a request for proposal for the specific equipment needed. Assistant Attorney Stephen Reed said the decision allows the city to choose the pieces of equipment it needs without being locked into a single company for all the different aspects of the project.

"The advantage of (a request for proposal) is that we can purchase the different components, and so that they will all work together," Reed said. "If we use another type of procurement, we may not have that type of advantage."

Quaka emphasized the board has not yet approved spending on the project, and that this approval only gives officials the ability to start the process of procurement. He said the department has already begun drafting its proposal.

The process began about a year ago and will take roughly five years to complete, with an annual estimated $75,000 payment for real-time surveillance software and an increased budget of about $300,000 to $400,000 annually for body camera maintenance, repair and replacements. Quaka said he hopes to have the software and most elements that will make up the command center in place by the end of the year.

Mayor Todd Jordan said the upgrades were necessary, noting that a tour of Jackson and Starkville's real-time crime centers and saw behind the city was on crime investigation technology. He called the experience "eye-opening."

"We are not on the cutting edge," Jordan said. "We are far behind, and I appreciate the council buying in on this project. ... We will get there; it is just going to take some time."

© 2023 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.