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Federal grant foots bill for eye-in-the-sky equipment

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Morgan County will soon be safer as the sheriff's department prepares to improve its eye in the sky.
Sheriff Greg Bartlett accepted a grant for $180,000 from Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., on Monday for law enforcement technology and equipment upgrades. Bartlett said the funds would be used to purchase a FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) system to equip the county's helicopter with night vision and thermal imaging equipment, as well as a spotlight and radio equipment enabling patrol units and the helicopter to communicate.
"This equipment will enable us to perform night searches for missing persons, Alzheimer's patients, and lost children in wooded areas," Bartlett explained. "The spotlight will also be helpful in tracking narcotics suspects who flee on foot. This way we don't have to wait until daylight to find someone."
Cramer secured the funding as a member of the House Appropriations Committee in the Fiscal Year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act with the support of Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., who also represents portions of Morgan County.
"Our law enforcement officers are out there every day on the frontlines putting their lives at risk to keep our children and neighborhoods safe," Cramer said. "These officers are a large reason why our community is such a great place to live, work and raise a family. As your representative in Washington, I want to make sure that they have the most up-to-date technology."
Bartlett said the helicopter underwent $20,000 in renovations last September, including glass replacement and interior upgrades. He said the new equipment will be ordered as soon as possible to make the helicopter available for use in the near future.
"Surrounding areas will also benefit from the helicopter's services," Bartlett said. "It's going to be a great asset for Morgan County and our neighbors once it is in place."