The Bald Knob Police Department is getting its officers out of the office by adding mobile unit computers to its police vehicles.

The Bald Knob City Council approved up to $30,000 Monday for eight computers, pending an ordinance from City Attorney Don Raney to waive competitive bidding.

Bald Knob Police Chief Larry House said the computers will allow the city’s police officers to perform functions such as running tags and doing accident reports from their vehicles. They currently have to return to the police station in order to access a computer.

House said the amount without tax and shipping for the computers is going to be $21,822. He said he “got a bid from Verizon wifi, who I’m pretty sure Searcy police told me they use for the wifi, [and] it would be $332.52 a month.” Installation would be $300 per unit.

Council member Mary Lou Smith asked House if the eight units would mean one for every police car. He said that it would.

City Council member Johnny Hodges made the suggestion to get Raney involved to waive the bidding. He said the reason for this was because House sounded like he was sold on Verizon because that is what Searcy was using and they have had good luck with it.

Smith made the motion to purchase the units, but said she didn’t know how much to make it for regarding the cost. Council member David Smith suggested “up to $30 [thousand] because you may run in to something that you have to swap out [when installing the units].”

House said he also has applied for a grant and said if the city gets it, “we can pay every bit of this back.” He said he has been asking for the grant for over a year.

“The way they look at it if you have the money to buy it, you don’t need the grant to buy it,” City Clerk-Treasurer Tammy Wools said.

Smith said, “If you get the grant, you can use it for something else.”

Hodges told House to call about the grant and tell them he feels like his department is “in need of this communications and we are trying to decide if we should take the money out of our system to fund it and then reimburse it with the grant, and if they say, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ we’ll just bite the bullet and buy it.”

Also concerning the police department, Smith said he and House have worked on a spreadsheet on the mileage for all the police units. “Before we wear these things out out and they wind up in a field parked, we kind of need to update them before they are wasted, before they are worth zero, and we have two or three right there that are right there on the line, so we’ll have that for you next month.”

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