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Putnam Trust grant outfits Houlton Police cruisers with new tech

HOULTON, Maine — Officers with the Houlton Police Department will be better equipped to do their jobs thanks to a grant from the Putnam Charitable Trust.

Houlton Police Chief Tim DeLuca informed the town council Monday evening that his department had received a grant in the amount of $16,366 from the Putnam Trust to purchase three mobile data terminals to be used in cruisers.

“This is a relatively new technology that Houlton Police Department has been behind the times (on purchasing),” DeLuca said. “This equipment will provide the officers with data right at their fingertips inside their cars.”

Among the many types of data that officers will now have access to in their vehicle, without waiting for a dispatcher to relay that information, are driver’s license checks, motor vehicle registrations and stolen vehicle inquiries.

“What is even better is that it improves officer safety,” the chief said. “And it also increases the officer’s efficiency, that way they can spend more time out in the field, without having to come in (to the police station) to do their reports.”

He explained that if there was a particular neighborhood where an officer’s presence might be beneficial, that officer can park their cruiser and still get other work accomplished while also watching that area.

“These are very nice, top-of-the-line units and I am very happy to get these,” DeLuca said. “Even more exciting is that all of the purchase is being done with grant funds.”

The total cost for the equipment was around $24,000, with the balance being paid for by COVID relief money received by the department.

There is a monthly fee of about $50 per unit for the wireless data needed to perform the tasks. Chief DeLuca said that expense has been factored in to his 2022 budget.

“The Putnam Trust repeatedly outperforms themselves and supports this town and we sincerely thank them,” Houlton Town Manager Marian Anderson said. “This (grant) will help our officers in their cruisers and it is important for us to move forward with this project.”

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