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Sheriff pursues grant for mobile tower

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

Surveillance structure seen as crime deterrent

The Denton County Sheriff’s Office received commissioners’ approval Tuesday for plans to seek grants from the U.S. Department of Justice and the CoServ Charitable Foundation to buy an observation tower.

Sheriff William Travis is seeking funding from one group or the other to buy a SkyWatch mobile observation tower.

According to the sheriff’s memo to the court, the addition of a surveillance tower would allow the sheriff’s office to provide a visible deterrent and conspicuous law enforcement presence at area events.

The memo notes that “in addition to the thousands of visitors to City of Denton’s Annual Arts & Jazz Fest and the North Texas State Fair & Rodeo, other Denton County cities host visitors over multiple days for special events such as an annual festival or celebration days. The addition of the SkyWatch Observation Tower would be helpful to smaller agencies to use during their annual festivals or celebration days.”

The grant applications need to be filed by the end of this month.

The Justice Assistance Grant would partially fund the purchase of a tower, paying $80,000, and the remaining $11,609 cash match would be funded through the sheriff’s office’s forfeiture funds. A grant from the CoServ Charitable Foundation would pay the entire cost of a tower.

According to the sheriff, a tank of gasoline at a cost of around $61 a month would be used for the tower, which would be absorbed in the current funding.

County Commissioner Andy Eads said the tower could be another innovative policing tool in the sheriff’s ongoing efforts to prevent crime.

“I think this could be used in a variety of ways for special events throughout the county. It can be loaned to our cities in the county and can be just another tool in our efforts to reduce crime and violence in the county,” Eads said. “By authorizing two grant apps, we increase our chances to have this funded through the state or through the private sector — the generosity of the CoServ [Operation] Roundup program. The program has been a wonderful success story for local governments here in Denton County because CoServ has a priority on awarding grants to first responders.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.