Following a presentation by Mesquite Police Chief Charles Cato to the Mesquite City Council during the Aug. 19 pre-meeting on seizure funds, the council approved an amendment to the 2018-19 Police State Seizure Budget in the amount of $335,000.

Cato went over five items that the budget would help cover, which includes $55,000 for an employee wellness program, $200,000 for data storage, $30,000 for a fixed licensed plate reader (LPR) system, $35,000 for rifle purchase and $15,000 for Hesco barricades.

“Employee wellness is a big focus – not just here in Mesquite but nationally for law enforcement,” he said.

Cato informed the council that this year, since June 1 there has been a reported eight New York police officer suicides and seven in Chicago, and noted that there hasn’t been any in the history of the Mesquite Police Department.

“The mental and emotional health of officers is at critical stages at departments across the country,” he said.

According to the presentation, the funds will go toward development, implementation and equipment for a Mesquite Police Department employee wellness program. Criminal justice occupations are associated with high work stress leading to psychological illness and high turnover rates. The program will encompass training modules, counseling options, databases of self-help information, as well as self-assessment tools. This program will offer all police employees opportunities to achieve mental wellness.

Cato said that due to body cameras and in-car cameras more data storage is needed to keep up.

According to the presentation, the Mesquite Police Department needs to increase data storage to comply with legal and criminal investigation standards. This proposal increases the capacity and should provide storage capabilities for years to come.

The police department has secured funds to deploy a fixed LPR system in designated areas of the city. This request is to cover the remaining costs needed to implement this program.

According to the presentation, this LPR system utilizes the same system currently deployed on the department’s patrol vehicles and surveillance trailer. The fixed LPR system will allow 24/7, all-weather monitoring capabilities.

The department has been able to use existing traffic cameras to locate criminal suspects. This program aims to augment and enhance the department’s existing crime-fighting tools by enabling officers and investigators to identify suspect vehicles and capture license plates. The LPR system will aid real-time investigations and will also provide critical information during post offense investigations.

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