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Dark days ahead for criminals into tint?
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RIPON — Criminals who think they can get away with illegal activity by driving around in heavily tinted windows that aren’t allowed by state law may be in for a surprise.

Ripon Police may be getting tint scanners as part of an upcoming grant request.

While budget issues are making it difficult for government entities to fund certain projects and replace aging equipment, Ripon Police Chief Richard Bull has found a way to make sure his department can function properly.

The Ripon City Council gave their blessing on Tuesday night to allow the department to submit a request to receive $29,284 in funding from the $2 billion set aside in the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program.  It will allow them to upgrade to more modern equipment that will allow for functionality as well as the preservation of criminal cases.

Included in the request submitted to the council was the detailed list of the items the department wishes to replace – from a digital/analog body wire kit for working sting operations and covert investigations to a Nikon D300 digital SLR camera that will allow for crisp images to be captured for detailed documentation.

“Without this grant we wouldn’t be able to replace these items this year or the year after that or probably the year after that – we’re very grateful to the government for making this available to us,” Bull said. “It’ll allow us to preserve criminal investigations and support our other activities.”

In addition to the body wire and the camera the department is planning to purchase tint scanners that will allow officers on traffic stops to determine whether windows on a vehicle are outfitted with illegal tint. It is something that Bull says can make it difficult for officers to assess a situation and to spot contraband that may be in the vehicle.

By not knowing whether the vehicles were outfitted with illegally tinted windows in the past, Bull said, all of the information that was later obtained was inadmissible in court and allowed the perpetrators to walk away.

Also included on the list are two spotlight-mounted thermal imaging cameras, a paging system that can simultaneously notify all Administration staff notifying them immediately of a critical incident as well as two wireless encrypted headsets for dispatchers who might be exposed to privileged information.

A K-9 deployment and heat alert system is also on the list – a system with heat monitoring functions which can activate fans or roll down vehicle windows in the event that the canine becomes dangerously hot.  The system can also allow the officer to remotely open the vehicle door from a distance.

“We’re just glad that we found out that this grant money was available and that we’ll be able to use it to replace badly aging equipment,” Bull said. “It’s going to make a big difference.”