Bradenton police want to use federal grant to buy 'observation platform' for events

BRADENTON -- A plan on how to use a $29,044 federal grant is scheduled to be reviewed by the Bradenton City Council during a meeting Wednesday.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant is being considered to buy law enforcement equipment and technology, and for administrative costs for the Bradenton Police Department, according to city documents.

"The goal of the requested funding is for enhanced officer safety, improved evidence collection, and increased intelligence gathering," the documents said.

One of the items proposed for purchase is a mobile observation platfrom, estimated to cost $23,000.

"The observation tower gives us the ability to oversee crowds at big events downtown, at the blues festival, and the riverfront," said Bradenton Police Capt. Warren Merriman. "To observe crowds and maintain order."

The proposed plan also budgets for an evidence recovery kit and a mobile data extraction device that would allow investigators to obtain phone calls, text messages and other information from suspects' phones.

The budgeted amount for equipment and department operations total $39,300, exceeding the grant amount.

"A lot of times when we bid out items they come under budget, so we have to have a plan to take care of excess," Merriman said.

If at time of purchase the equipment costs less than the anticipated amount, then the money would be used to buy other equipment or for undercover operations, he said.

Other matters scheduled for Wednesday's meeting:

-- Approval of an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for the maintenance of landscape, hardscape, and irrigation of streets on Manatee Avenue from 12th Street East to 15th Street West.

-- Appointment of a retired Bradenton Police deputy chief to the Police Pension Board.

Bradenton City Council chambers are located at 101 Old Main St. Wednesday's meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m.