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McKeesport police to upgrade technology

| Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, 5:06 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
McKeesport police Chief Bryan J. Washowich, right, and Sgt. Chris Olinski look over the area where a new computer will be installed.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
McKeesport police Chief Bryan J. Washowich, right, and Sgt. Chris Olinski inspect one of the patrol vehicles where a new computer will be installed. Each of the department's 16 vehicles will be upgraded with new computer equipment.

With the goal of making the city's police department more efficient, McKeesport council on Wednesday unanimously approved the purchase of 16 police car computers for $49,208.60 from Greater Pittsburgh-based DATAMed Consultants.

“Hopefully we'll get the best police service we can possibly get,” council president Darryl Segina said.

“It's extremely important for our officers to be equipped with all the tools they need to be as efficient as they possibly can to go through their daily routines,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “It will help us tremendously in our efforts of keeping the city safe.”

Funding is through the U.S. Department of Justice's Equitable Sharing Program, which in turn is funded by forfeited assets resulting from federal investigations.

McKeesport's portion of the pot is based on its involvement in investigations. The city purchased a vehicle last year through the program.

“We cooperate with federal investigations quite often,” police Chief Bryan Washowich said. “We have a narcotics detective who is assigned to the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.”

Cherepko said the project went out for public bid, and DATAMed was the only company that responded.

DATAMed staff will train officers to use the new equipment. The computers will be installed in all marked patrol units and select unmarked vehicles.

“They definitely will add a benefit in regards to public safety in several ways,” the chief said. “We're going to be happy to get this project completed.”

The equipment will allow city police to link to Allegheny County Emergency Services Center to review dispatch calls.

Councilman Richard Dellapenna, a telecommunicator at the center for 19 years, lauded the chief for getting the computers. He said other municipal police departments link up electronically to the center, easing delivery of sensitive details about incidents and individuals.

“There are times when you don't want to put things on the radio that can be sent through the computer, the more confidential information,” Dellapenna said. “It works very well.”

“Our calls will be described on a computer screen,” Washowich said. “We'll have a little more information in regards to call history to particular addresses. We're going to have built-in GPS monitors on the computers.

“In the event of a critical incident, a patrol supervisor will be able to pinpoint each of his officers' locations on his screen. He'll be able to effectively direct officers to certain locations.”

Officers will be able to spend more time in their neighborhoods, rather than at a desk filling out paperwork.

“The report-writing component to the system is going to be critical to keeping officers on the streets,” Washowich said. “Instead of them coming to the police station to write a report, they can sit at an intersection and write a report and still be visible to the public.”

McKeesport police vehicles had computers in the early 1990s.

“Obviously technology improved. Those computers became obsolete,” Washowich said. “Based on a cost factor, we just never were able to replace them.”

Council approved Penntex Ventures LLC's site plan for a new Dollar General at the departing Kentucky Fried Chicken at 740 Lysle Blvd.

Morgan Foods Inc., the franchisee of the KFC, is projected to close the store no later than Dec. 31.

The proposed Dollar General would be 9,100 square feet. Approximately 10-12 jobs will be created. Construction could start after Thanksgiving and be completed by May.

City officials recognized Penntex representatives at Wednesday night's meeting and welcomed them to McKeesport.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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