City continues budget talks

Published 10:56 am Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Winchester Police hopes to add the capability for its dispatchers to walk people through medical responses until an ambulance or other first responders can arrive.

The program, called Power Phone, was part of a $65,000 budget request for hardware and software for emergency communications. The Winchester Board of Commissioners had its second and final budget workshop meeting Monday morning.

Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer said the program would show dispatchers what questions to ask of callers in a medical situation and give them steps to pass along to the caller.

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The program has been around for years, he said, but previously the department would have needed a medical director on staff in order to use the program. Now, Palmer said it only needs to be approved by a medical director.

The program is estimated to cost $8,000, according to the city’s budget.

Throughout the rest of Palmer’s presentation, the department requested purchasing two new cruisers at $30,500 each, new helmets and tactical vests for officers, a GPS tracker and a thermal imaging camera. The latter two would primarily be for tracking suspects.

Palmer also requested $4,800 for two tactical cameras, one would be an officer-operated robot and the other a softball-sized camera. Both, he said, would enter a residence and show officers what is inside, rather than going in with no idea of what or who they may find.

Both could be used in a number of situations from active shooters to executing a search warrant to hostage situations, he said.

The city commissioners heard from a number of other groups Monday including the animal shelter, Clark County GIS, Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation, and Community Education. Officials from Winchester Fire-EMS, Winchester Public Works and others made their budget presentations May 13.

The city commission must approve two readings of the budget before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Winchester City Manager Matt Belcher said the budget includes a 3 percent raise for all city employees. The budget projects an estimated $20.4 million in expenses and $20.4 million in revenue. Belcher is also estimating a carryover of about $4 million from the current fiscal year.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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