GILMER–The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office has procured a $356,624 state grant which will “revolutionize” the way the office works and “provide a better service to our citizens” by upgrading technology, said Sheriff Larry Webb.

The grant, believed to be the largest ever received by the office, will be used to change dispatching procedures, improve officer safety and response times, and provide more thorough crime statistics to federal and state officials, Webb said Monday. Funds were received from the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, he said..

Webb had announced receipt of the grant to Upshur County Commissioners Court at its meeting last Thursday. He said Monday that dispatchers will now be able to type information from calls into a computer at the sheriff’s office, and send that information to a computer in a deputy sheriff’s patrol car.

That will enable deputies to write required reports on a computer in their cars out in the field, rather than having to return to the sheriff’s office in Gilmer to write them, the sheriff explained. Thus, deputies will be in the field longer, which will decrease their response time to calls and “allow them to be more proactive in the county,” Webb said.

The new system will also improve officer safety by allowing Global Positioning System locating of a patrol car in case the deputy does not reply to a dispatcher for some reason, the sheriff said. Radios can still be used for contact if needed, he added.

In addition, the changes financed by the grant will permit upgrades in managing the jail and maintaining records, Webb said.

Concerning the crime statistics,  Webb said that under the current reporting system used by his office, Upshur County only reports the main crime in a situation involving multiple offenses. For example, in a vehicle burglary (which is a misdemeanor) where firearms are stolen, the firearm theft is a felony, so the office would only report the firearm theft and not the burglary, he said. Under the new system, all crimes involved in an individual situation can be reported.