High Tech Tools Benefit Public Safety - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/04/02

High Tech Tools Benefit Public Safety

High tech tools are keeping today's police officers and firefighters safer than ever.

Standard issue equipment includes such things as portable video systems and thermal imaging cameras.

This week the city councils of Biloxi and Gulfport agreed to spend a combined two hundred thousand dollars on new public safety gear.

"It's really a handy tool. Without this, you can't do the job," explained officer Ramone Castillo as he showed off a new Sony eight millimeter camera.

He appreciates the versatility of his high tech partner. The Sony cameras give Biloxi police officers an extra set of eyes and ears. And the police department is getting 15 new ones.

"Sounds like a lot of money, thirty eight thousand dollars. And it is. However, for what we use it for, you have to have the tools to do the job. And our job is far reaching. It isn't just going out doing traffic stops. Whatever you can think of, pretty much people call the police for," explained Chief Bruce Dunagan.

"It takes awhile to get used to it. There's a lot of buttons and gadgets. But once you get the hang of it, it's really a neat device," said officer Castillo.

Firefighters in Gulfport are also looking forward to a high tech upgrade.

"You've got to continually upgrade your equipment. And our firefighters and the citizens deserve the latest and the best equipment," said Fire Chief, Pat Sullivan.

A 260 thousand dollar FEMA grant will help keep Gulfport firefighters safe. The department is buying new breathing tanks, thermal imaging cameras and personal alarm devices.

"An alarm that a firefighter wears that if he goes down and can't respond the alarm will go off. We're upgrading all this personal safety gear in order to protect our firefighters when they're in that environment," Sullivan said.

The working environment frequently means risk. But improved technology is helping keep firefighters and police officers a little safer.

The Biloxi Fire Department is also getting an equipment upgrade. The department will receive three thermal imaging cameras, thirty five face masks and two video projectors for fire training.

By Steve Phillips

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