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Henry commission OKs public safety projects
by Christine Fonville
October 08, 2013 03:41 PM | 893 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Drug offender counseling, juvenile court and highway safety were on the docket of the Henry County Commissioners meeting last week.

Drug Court Coordinator Kia Phillips proposed hiring an independent contractor for drug counseling services for the county.

The counseling services are provided to offenders in drug court as a means of rehabilitation.

“Last month, the board indicated a preference to utilize an independent contractor rather than create a position for an in-house counselor,” Phillips said.

Chairman Tommy Smith voiced concerns about “ending up with a full-time employee that [the county] would be responsible for placing when [the county] does not have a position to put that person,” and said the board decided a contractor will be more appropriate.

“It’s an excellent program, obviously, and we want to participate in and accommodate the judicial system to have full-time people, but we’re also being protective of our finances if the Drug Abuse Treatment and Education fund ever ceases,” he said.

The contract amount is about $40,000 and would come from the fund.

According to the county’s website, 100 percent of the costs to pay for a drug court, treatment and education program is collected from offenders’ penalties.

Regarding juvenile court, Judge William Bartles said a $100,000 Criminal Justice Coordinating Council grant will help establish “community-centered, evidence-based programs.”

The council, designated by Gov. Nathan Deal as the state’s agency for criminal justice and victims assistance programs, seeks to provide programs aimed at reducing crimes committed by children.

Bartles said the program is a performance-based contract.

“The program must show at minimum a 5 percent decrease in felony commitments to the juvenile department during the first quarter of operation,” he said.

Its anticipated launch is later this month.

In the county police department, traffic accident investigation will get a boost, according to Maj. Keith Going, from a $25,000 Justice Assistance Grant.

“Our police department responds to all serious and fatality crashes with outdated equipment,” Going said.

He said new mapping station equipment will help officers respond to investigate serious crashes in a significantly less amount of time.

“The time spent mapping and recreating the scenes of investigation will be cut in half with this new equipment,” Going said. Pursuing and prosecuting drivers under the influence will be enhanced with support from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to maintain the county’s Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic unit.

“The H.E.A.T. unit in the county is composed of one sergeant and three officers whose focus has been to implement ways to reduce impaired driving,” Going said about the program.

He said a $54,000 grant would fund about 40 percent of the unit’s cost for radars and lasers as well as the four police personnel’s salary.

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