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Laptops still not installed in Natchez police patrol cars

NATCHEZ — Nearly eight months after the City of Natchez announced it would be equipping police patrol cars with laptop computers, the cars are still without laptops.

Mayor Butch Brown has expressed frustration that former information technology director Eric Junkin did not install the 18 laptops ordered for the police department.

“We should have had them (in the cars) 60 days after we got them,” Brown said.

The mayor fired Junkin last week.

Magnolia Bluffs Casino presented a check to purchase the laptops in December; they arrived in early February.

Junkin has contended that he was too bogged down with attending to daily IT needs of the city to set up and install the laptops by himself.

Brown said getting the laptops in the patrol cars will be a top priority of the city’s new IT director. The city has contracted with local IT specialist Ed Bowser to temporarily handle IT needs, and Brown said Bowser could possibly help with the installation of the laptops.

The small laptops will be equipped with remote desktop software that will allow patrol officers to log on to a computer at NPD and access files there.

The laptops will be permanently mounted in the cars, will allow the officers to fill out reports and citations and save them to a server at the police department.

Bowser said he has not yet had time to discuss the police laptops with the mayor, since the mayor has been out of town. Bowser said he has been handling the transition since Junkin’s departure.

“Any time there’s a separation of personnel, there’s best practices you follow, password changed and things like that,” Bowser said.

Bowser has eight years of experience handling municipal IT needs in the Chicago area and served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Technology, which recommended candidates for the IT director position when Junkin was hired in March 2012.

The city, Brown said, is currently interviewing candidates for the IT director position who applied last year.

Brown said the city hopes to hire an IT director as soon as possible.

“And we will have laptops in the patrol cars, and we will have them soon,” he said.

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