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CKPD gets $65,000 stimulus

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Levy County Sheriff Johnny Smith is feeling a bit generous lately, doling out some swag throughout Levy County and the Cedar Key Police Department is happy to be on the gift list.

Smith, who is in his third and final term, was recently notified that the federal economic stimulus legislation passed by Congress has $328,616 available for Levy County under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

Smith informed county police chiefs about the grant in an April 22 meeting and said he would share equal slices of the pie with the police chiefs from Chiefland, Williston, Cedar Key and Inglis.

Each chief’s share is $65,723.20.

“Well, I was glad to hear it,” Cedar Key Chief Virgil Sandlin said.

Sandlin, who came to the department from the Florida Highway Patrol where as he says “they are above and beyond” in equipping their officers, is looking forward to bringing the city’s four police cruisers into the Internet age.

“We’re going to use ours for getting in-car computers,” he said. “We want to have the ability to run our own tag checks and license checks.

“One of the problems the sheriff is having right now is the number of traffic calls and the stuff they are having to handle.”

And he’s glad to not have to ask the City Commission to have to pony up the cash.

“I was really kind of dreading going to the commission and asking with the money the way it is and having to justify it,” he said. “That was good.”

Sandlin said he once priced a system and it would have cost $400,000, but things have changed. “I can get it for that amount of money. I can at least get onto the system and piggy back off of the sheriff’s, with the appropriate software printers, training, air cards and all that”

Last year the department purchased digital cameras for its officers, Sandlin said. “We got them flash cams — which is a flashlight and video and audio recorder. We got four of those and it’s worked out great for us.”