Ardmore police will now have another tool in its repertoire when responding to crisis. The department will soon purchase a new phone system. But not just any system — a $28,499.95 Direct-Link Crisis Response Throw Phone System.
The system is designed to be thrown, either through a window or any confined space where a standoff or hostage situation may take place. The system provides a direct line of communication as well as surveillance to responding officers.
APD Chief Ken Grace said the purchase is a budgeted item.
“The tactical team is the one that would use it,” Grace said. “Say they have someone held up in a house, or what ever it might be and they are unable to get communications with anyone inside. This is a device they can run up and throw through the window. It is full of cameras and microphones, so we can communicate on the other end, several hundred feet away. A lot of time when they have a phone, no one answers, so this will let us know if he is still there, shot himself or whatever may be.”
“It protects everybody involved,” Grace said. “When you are doing that, you don’t know how many people are in there. If they aren’t answering you, you don’t know. There might be someone dead we don’t know about. There could be victims, hostages we don’t know about. It allows you to determine what level of force to use.”
Grace said the department is taking a proactive approach to potential gaps in the department’s abilities to respond to crisis.
“You’ve always got to try and stay ahead of everything,” Grace said. “You don’t want to be playing catch up all the time. That seems to be what we’ve done. We are at full capacity. Things work better when you can do that. When I first came over here, we were 7-8 people down. You just can’t operate that way. That is why the crime rate was so high back in 2014. One of the reasons.”
Recent OSBI reports showed a 12 percent drop in violent crime rates in Ardmore in 2017 alone.
“We want our officers to have the most up-to-date equipment there is,” Grace said.
Ardmore City Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase during Monday’s regular meeting.
“You hate to think that those situations may happen, but if there’s technology out there that we can afford and we can budget for then there is no reason why we shouldn’t include it for those task force packages,” Commissioner Doug Pfau said. “You’d hate to have something horrible happen because we didn’t decide to budget for something that could prevent it from happening.”
Pfau said the request was approved, due in part, to the recent success APD has had in lowering the city’s crime rates.
“There was so much bad press about Ardmore for so long,” Pfau said. “Chief Grace and Deputy Chief Kevin Norris and the police force as a whole, the decline in crime rate, it has dropped several years in a row.”