Stillwater News Press

Local News

January 14, 2014

Stillwater officials look to improve training facilities, safety, manpower

STILLWATER, Okla. — Many of Stillwater’s police officers and firefighters will be eligible to retire this year, law enforcement officials said.

Over the course of the year, the Stillwater police and fire departments plan to work on officer development. Fire Chief Tom Bradley said 22 people are eligible to retire, among the 73 employees and 66 on shift.

“As individuals start to retire, we want to be sure that we have capable leaders ready,” he said.

The Stillwater Police Department was 10 percent understaffed in 2013 and is looking to improve its staffing for this year. It also has several retirements expected to occur in 2014.

Spokesman Capt. Randy Dickerson said the department seeks to fill positions that are vacant.

Here are a few things to watch for in 2014.

Payne County Sheriffs Office Capt. Kevin Woodward said the department will receive an additional two in-car camera systems. The two will add to five already in use. The in-car systems cost up to $5,000 per unit. A grant from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office allowed the department to purchase the additional two. The grant is an incentive to reduce DUI’s. The video goes directly to a server for review and evidence.

Stillwater Police Chief Ryan McCaghren wants to purchase 34 camera systems with the appropriate computer server and storage. The videos aids in capturing crimes and provides law enforcement with evidence to dispel false allegations.

McCaghren said funding was approved in the 2013 to 2014 budget. Money was allocated and the department is in the process of finding the system best for it.

Payne County will also advance its connectivity.

Woodward can now access county building’s surveillance from a server on his computer.

Woodward said the county combined four buildings on the same Wi-Fi to save money. The main courthouse building, jail, administration building and the county maintenance building are on the same Wi-Fi. The buildings have always been on surveillance, however on a dated system.

The Stillwater Police Department purchased a 2014 Ford F250 to replace its lake patrol vehicle.

Patrol Officer Chris Howell said the pickup will be a big change from using a standard SUV. The lake patrol operates on unpaved roads, driving on fields and trails much of the time. The pickup is equipped to pull a trailer and haul an all-terrain vehicle.

Police patrol Lake McMurtry, which has a water surface area of approximately 1,100, and 2,600 acres of surrounding land. The truck is built to multifunction, with policing activity that patrols fishing, boating and game hunting.

It will also aid in patroling the Stillwater 500 park.

“We purchased it brand new from the state bid,” Howell said.

Howell said it may take a few weeks to finish adding details — the bumper, cages, paint with labels, lights, equipment and weapons.

The Sheriff’s Office acquired two vehicles, a bus and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Oklahoma State University donated the bus, which will become a command post.

It will be used for officers to respond to fires or natural disasters with capability of having computers, Woodward said. The bus is powered by a generator.

In October, the county acquired the MRAP from federal military surplus in McAlester.

Woodward said the military was offering the high-powered vehicle at next to no cost. It is commonly used in battle. The county plans to use it for emergency rescue. It may aid in natural disasters such as fires, floods and tornadoes, or in shooting attacks.

Because of school shootings across the country, Woodward said the county wouldn’t pass up the opportunity for added safety.

The MRAP weighs 29 tons and is 12 feet tall, with underwater navigation of up to 8 feet. See Saturday’s paper for an in-depth look at what the MRAP can do.

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