Sheriff’s office to have mobile app

OKEECHOBEE — Have a question for the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office? Soon there will be an app for that.

At their Thursday, May 24, meeting the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners approved Sheriff Noel Stephen’s request for funding for a sheriff’s office app.

According to the staff report, TheSheriffApp.com develops custom iPhone and Android apps to help harness the increasing number of residents who have smart phones.
The App will include options such as alerts, submit a tip, inmate search, recent arrests, sex offender information, weather alerts, crime prevention and safety tips, and a way to post comments and complaints.

Those who download the app will have up-to-date information from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.

The initial cost of $14,565 includes set up and the base annual maintenance fee.
Funds for the App will come from the Crime Prevention Fund. Future funding for the annual maintenance fee will also come out of this fund.

According to the staff report, in December of 2014 the Board of County Commissioners established the Crime Prevention Fund with a beginning balance of $243,267. This fund has continued to grow and has an available fund balance of $327,396. Revenue for this fund is generated by arrest fines and fees.

According to Florida Statute Section 775.083, “the county, in consultation with the sheriff, must expend such funds for crime prevention programs in the county, including safe neighborhood programs.”

The fund is restricted by statute. The sheriff may use the funds for crime prevention efforts, but expenses must be approved by the county commission.

In a related matter, the commissioners approved purchase of a Stalker SAM-R Mobile Speed Trailer at a cost of $5,638.40, with the funds coming from the Crime Prevention Fund. The mobile radar trailer will be used to monitor speeders.

Using money from another restricted fund, the commission also approved the purchase of two, dual-purpose K-9s.

“These dogs can do drug detection and apprehension,” explained the sheriff.

Funds for the K-9s will come from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. Revenue for this fund comes from confiscated items and money seized in criminal cases. These funds may be used by the sheriff with the approval of the county commission.

The sheriff also received approval to spend money from the Inmate Welfare Fund for some improvements at the county jail.

The Inmate Welfare Fund comes from money paid by the inmates for commissary items.

The sheriff said inmates are provided with the basic necessities, but they can purchase “extras” in the jail commissary.

“They are allowed to buy honey buns and Ramen noodles and things like that as long as their behavior is good,” explained the sheriff.

The money in this fund can only be used for certain things related to the improvement of the jail, he said.

The commission approved an expenditure of $11,000 for improvements to the jail to fund an upgrade of the internet system and video conferencing equipment.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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