U.S. Representative Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) paid a visit to the lake area Jan. 29, visiting local law enforcement at Osage Beach City Hall.

U.S. Representative Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) paid a visit to the lake area Jan. 29, visiting local law enforcement at Osage Beach City Hall.

Skelton visited with members of local law enforcement about new and/or upgraded equipment used to connect agencies with each other and external databases. After meeting with law enforcement department heads, Skelton viewed the equipment.

Several years ago many of the chiefs and sheriffs began talking about ways to better collect and exchange criminal information and statistical data to better improve crime fighting and officer safety.  They took their ideas to Skelton and Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) who embraced the project.  Skelton secured funding for this multi jurisdictional Law Enforcement initiative that is meant to serve as a pilot project for other departments around the country. Jeff Meriman’s grant writing ability assisted us in obtaining the funding which is administered by the Department of Justice. The funding totaled, $1.26 million in fiscal year 2008, $1.25 million in fiscal year 2009 and $1 million in fiscal year 2010.

To complete the project, many records management systems required major upgrades and some agencies had no systems to begin with. Wireless cellular continuity was established and ruggedized laptops were installed in marked police vehicles.

Data and criminal activity is collected in a number of ways and is transmitted to a central database maintained by a division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol called MODEX (Missouri Data Exchange), which, in turn, accesses a robust and intuitive analyst program called “Cop Link,” which can make associations and connections with know criminals and crimes from other metro jurisdictions. This results in more crimes solved and criminals arrested. It is available to the officer on the street 24/7, truly tying the state together. Other technologies that are being deployed include iris scanning identification, electronic ticketing scanning devices, license plate recognition technology and non cellular wireless connectivity options. 

This project now includes sheriffs in Cole, Boone Callaway, Audrain, Camden, Miller and Morgan counties, as well as the police departments of Osage Beach, Jefferson City, Camdenton, Columbia, Fulton, Mexico, Lake Ozark, Versailles, Laurie, Eldon and Stover. These agencies service collectively more than 350,000 residents and cover more than 4,500 square miles. 

This technology is not new to law enforcement but it is very expensive and without the work done by Congressman Skelton, many of the agencies in the fourth district simply could not afford to participate in this very efficient and effective crime fighting system.

Chief Severson said, “I know that, as a former prosecutor, Congressman Skelton has worked throughout the years to ensure our Law Enforcement Agencies have the tools they need to Protect and to Serve the people of Missouri and for that we all thank you.”