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EC police donate laptop computers to Perquimans sheriff

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Perquimans County Sheriff Shelby White (second from the left) and Chief Deputy Tom Reid (left) talk with Elizabeth City police Chief Eddie Buffaloe (center) and other city police personnel about the city department's recent donation of laptop computers to the Perquimans Sheriff's Office for use in patrol cars. The city department is getting new laptop computers.

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By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly

Thursday, June 7, 2018

HERTFORD — Shelby White knew the value of having laptop computers in deputies’ patrol cars even before he was appointed Perquimans County sheriff more than a year ago.

Of course, White also knew it would be expensive to outfit each of the department’s 15 vehicles with a laptop. He also knew there was no money in the department’s budget for them.

White said he priced the cost of buying four laptops and eight mounts for the department’s eight road deputies. The idea was that once the mounts were in place, deputies could rotate the laptops between the four vehicles in use at any one time.

According to White, the price tag from one vendor for the four laptops and eight mounts was $24,000 and $25,000 from another. Despite the cost, White figured he should request the items in his budget for next year.

But then White was speaking at a Ruritan Club meeting earlier this year and found out the Elizabeth City Police Department was going to replace its police laptops. Elizabeth City police were going with a GETACH system and the old laptops weren’t compatible.

So White contacted Elizabeth City police Chief Eddie Buffaloe to see if he could buy some of his department’s old computers to outfit the Perquimans Department.

“There was nothing wrong with them, they were just going to go with a different style,” White said.

Buffaloe looked into it and in May brought the matter to the attention of City Council’s Finance Committee. City Council agreed to have city officials donate 15 Toughbook computers, mounts and some printers at no cost to Perquimans County.

Toughbooks are not the same thing as a laptop a student may use in school or a person may buy for home use. Toughbook is a registered trademarked brand name of the Panasonic Corporation for a brand of rugged computers. They are used in a wide variety of industries, including construction, defense, emergency services, government, health care, law enforcement, manufacturing, oil, gas, telecom and utilities.

White said Buffaloe told him he’d send the first of the computers as soon as possible. White, however, told Buffaloe to wait until he could visit Elizabeth City and shake hands with those who made the donation possible.

According to White, having the laptops means Perquimans deputies will have instant access to the NCAWARE system and N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles license information. Arrest warrants are filed electronically now, and until now if one was issued, a deputy may not know it right away.

“If somebody walks into the Dare County magistrate’s office and gets a warrant on somebody in Perquimans County, they (deputies) will be able to see it in their cars while they are on patrol,” White said..

Deputies responding to a call will also be able to pull up the previous history of other calls at that same address.

The shift to laptops in sheriff patrol cars in Perquimans won’t totally be without cost. The sheriff said the department will have to purchase air cards on a regular basis to ensure the computers have internet access while they’re on the road.

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