Sheriff's Office could add a couple of new tools to its arsenal

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office could soon have a couple of new pieces of equipment: a radio dispatching console system worth nearly half a million dollars and a vehicle put up for sale by the federal and state governments that the sheriff will use for undercover work.

The 2001 van, which would go to the special operations unit for undercover work, became available to San Luis Obispo County through the asset forfeiture program. Under asset forfeiture, governments seize assets of suspected criminals. The Board of Supervisors votes on the issue Dec. 18.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson says the van has a market value of $20,000. He said the department expects annual maintenance and fuel costs to be around $825.

The county has several undercover vehicles, Parkinson said.

The $464,000 dispatch console system is long overdue, Parkinson wrote in a report to the Board of Supervisors.

He said the old system goes back to 1999, and the company that installed it told the county five years ago that it was nearing the end of its life expectancy.

That company dissolved in 2010, he wrote, “leaving no support services or replacement services available for our current dispatch consoles.”

“The prior administration,” Parkinson continued “was unable to budget or find a funding source for the replacement.”

However, he wrote, the department found money for the purchase in its 2011-12 budget, and set it aside.

Parkinson called the dispatch center “critical” and “an integral part of the public safety structure for the entire county and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.”

The new equipment, which the county will buy from Raytheon, has several state-of-the-art components, one of which allows the dispatch center to be mobile.

The board approved the purchase last week.