The purchase of new electronic equipment for two courtrooms was approved Monday by the Douglas County Commission.
The equipment will include plasma televisions, video presenters, computer touch screens, microphones and equipment racks at an estimated cost of up to a total of $57,821.
Douglas County Administrative Judge Robert Fairchild said the funding was available in the court's capital improvement fund. But he asked commissioners to waive the bidding process so the court could access a contract the state has with Mission Electronics Inc., of Lenexa.
"It gives the juries better information," Fairchild said of the new equipment. He said it would make it easier for juries, judges, attorneys and audiences to see certain information, especially video of police vehicle stops and interviews.
The court's long-term goal is to renovate all seven of the courtrooms with the equipment. Additional funds will have to be appropriated in future years. Commissioners said future requests for funding would have to be considered along with other budgeting requests.
In other business:
¢ Commissioners approved accepting an identification badge system to be utilized by certain county officials mainly during times of emergencies. The county will get the system through a Homeland Security grant received by the Northeast Kansas Regional Homeland Security Council. The badges can be scanned by electronic devices that verify the badge-holders credentials so they can be granted entrance to buildings or to the scene of emergencies. The badges also will work in responding to disasters or emergencies in some other areas of the state. The grant saved the county nearly $21,000.
¢ Also accepted was enhanced radio equipment received as a result of the same state grant. The equipment will help the county be able to talk by radio to emergency services from outside Douglas County.
"We can use the equipment if we're called (to assist) other counties," said Jim Denney, directors of emergency communications.
The cost of the equipment was listed at $10,773. The only cost to the county will be future maintenance.
County emergency services and law enforcement already have the capability to talk by radio among themselves, Denney said.