Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

TOP STORY >>Technology aids in pleas

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Starting today, if all goes as planned, Cabot prisoners won’t leave the jail for their first court appearance.

At the request of Judge Joe O’Bryan and Police Chief Jackie Davis, the city has installed a camera system that will allow the judge to hear prisoners’ pleas from the courtroom at the city annex while they are still in the lockup at city hall.
The system, essentially two cameras and two monitors, cost the city about $4,000.

The judge attended a June fire and police committee meeting to get approval for the technology. The committee gave its blessings and told the police chief that he was already budgeted for the purchase so it need not even go before the full council.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said Tuesday he was in favor of the new system because it is more secure and keeps police officers from waiting with prisoners in the courtroom.

“It reduces the cost of handling prisoners,” the mayor said.

He said he has been pushing since January to improve technology in the city because in the long run it will help keep expenses down.

He will update the city council on the progress in that direction during a special council meeting planned for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.

Williams said he will report on linking all city computers through a common server.

Most of the equipment was purchased for that project before he took office, Williams said.

He also will give an update on the new city Web site, where residents will eventually be able to file complaints, for example, about potholes, download copies of accident reports and look up minutes of council meetings.

Williams, who describes himself as a penny-pincher, says city hall employees spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with records that he wants to make available online.