The Clay County Justice Center is nearing completion of installing enhanced audio and visual capturing capabilities in the interview room of the facility thanks to some help from a local business.
County Sheriff Mike Heaton was recently donated a desktop version of an "E-machine brand" computer by Brazil Walmart Manager Jeremy O'Leary presented the new system to CCSD at the Brazil Store.
"First, I would like to thank Walmart for their commitment to public safety with our local community," Mike Heaton said.
"Secondly, our Justice Center is often the interviewing center for many local and state agencies. This new system will greatly enhance the investigative capabilities of our local, county, state and federal police officers."
Heaton said the old video/audio recording system worked, but there were problems.
"We not only interview suspects in the rooms, we interview victims too," he said. "When investigators had to go back to the recordings to make notes or clarify information, they were not the best quality."
While the interview rooms are also used for conferences between inmates and their attorney(s), Heaton said privilege (privacy laws) prevents any recordings to take place while they use one of the two rooms.
The jail facility was state-of-the-art when it was completed. However, Heaton said the department's tight budget didn't allow for the same level of technology to be installed. Although he felt it was important to do the upgrades, Heaton wanted to make sure they would be completed at no cost to Clay County taxpayers.
"Budgets are tight for everyone, and our limited budget dollars have been assigned to specific areas throughout a year," Heaton said. "These upgrades, and those that are needed to complete the project, have been made possible through donations from local residents and businesses, various fees that we have collected and technology grants we have applied for."
A main piece to complete the technology project is the purchase of a high-quality duplicating device that will create multiple disks of the recorded interviews, but, with more than a $3,000 price tag, Heaton said there isn't a big hurry.
"We've been slowly completing the work in the two interview rooms as funding allows," Heaton said.
Many law enforcement agencies in the surrounding Wabash Valley counties are using the technology upgrades in the interview rooms available at CCJC.
In a press release by ISP, Public Information Officer Sgt. Joe Watts confirmed detectives/troopers from the Indiana State Police (Terre Haute Post) Criminal Investigation Division participate in many ongoing investigations that cross county lines and often require interviews of multiple suspects and victims at CCJC.
"The technology here at the Justice Center is an excellent asset to the ISP Criminal Investigation Division and to all law enforcement in the area," ISP Det. Troy Stanton told The Brazil Times.
"Criminals don't know there are county lines and boundaries. They go wherever to commit their crimes," Heaton said. "This is a strong tool to build strong cases. It will help investigators strengthen and potentially aid in the successful prosecution of their cases. This technology allows officers to not only investigate a crime, but to capture the information and the emotion of the crime."