High-tech court phone line approved by Cape County Commission

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

In a unanimous vote, the Cape Girardeau County commission approved spending $840 to nudge the 32nd Circuit Court into the future. The money will allow a direct phone connection between Cape Girardeau County and Jefferson City, and access to the state highway patrol's records on criminals.

Circuit Judge Gary Kamp personally made the request, telling the commissioners the line will help track probation violations.

Kamp said parole violations are common and often missed because the information isn't readily available.

The sheriff's department has a similar phone line to the one Kamp requested, but not enough manpower to provide the court with the necessary criminal histories, he said. The court has used a private probation company for nearly 15 years.

A new company hired this year, Private Correctional Services LLC, is in the process of being approved to access criminal histories held by the state police and FBI, Kamp said, but it has already made strides in efficiency.

"They've caught quite a few more absconders, probation violators and they do more drug screens," he said. "It's a better service than the state's, because we have people meeting people instead of making phone checks."

While the commissioners agreed to pay the $210 monthly bill for the new dedicated phone line, they suggested Kamp ask the county's prosecuting attorney, Morley Swingle, if it will be possible to fund the line next year through the county's bad check fund. Kamp promised to look into it.

A request by the county's emergency management director, Dick Knaup, to rent storage space in uptown Jackson was taken under advisement. Currently extra sandbags and body bags are stored in spaces belonging to the country parks and highway departments.

In other action, the commissioners:

* Accepted a report by Virgie Koeppel, the county's chief deputy auditor, on the County Law Enforcement restitution fund.

* Approved $96,228.37 in expenses, which includes $81,497 for equipment and software for the collector's office.

* Referred two bids received for legal advertising to County Collector Diane Diebold for review and recommendation. The Southeast Missourian asked $6.85 per listing, based on three consecutive listings, and the Cashbook Journal asked $11.47 per entry per week.

* Appointed Bill Craig and Ted Williams to the county board of equalization.

* Declined to endorse the American Children's Safety Network's request for support using money from recycled license plates to buy bike helmets for children, while affirming support for the state's recycling efforts.

* Signed a letter congratulating Andrew Thompson of Jackson for completing his Eagle Scout project. Thompson led his fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 311 in replacing old plants at the base of the North County Park flagpole.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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