A city of Bethlehem Police car patrols a street in Bethlehem. In 2023, the Bethlehem Police Department received a $39,617 grant to update it's technology and remote data access capabilities.(Haoyang Zhang/B&W Staff)

Bethlehem Police receive technology and data grant


Bethlehem City Council approved the Bethlehem Police Department’s 2023 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant request to provide the department with $39,617 for updated technology and remote data access capabilities. 

According to the 2023 Budget Request Form, the award will revamp the department’s technology and computer intel, allowing officers to better record data in their vehicles, rather than being limited to accessing information at the station. 

On Feb. 6, the vote in favor of the grant was a unanimous 7-0, with council votes from Michael Colón, Grace Crampsie Smith, Brian Callahan, Hillary Kwiatek, Rachel Leon, Colleen Laird and Kiera Wilhem.

Edward Byrne, a New York City police officer who was murdered in the line of fire, was the inspiration for this national grant that works to provide necessary financial assistance to local and state law enforcement. 

A Bureau of Justice Department Fact Sheet states Byrne was passionate about protecting the welfare and safety of NYC residents. In 1998, while helping a citizen looking to bear witness in court, Byrne was shot by two men, killing him shortly after. 

Bethlehem Mayor J. William Reynolds spoke on Tuesday regarding the recent police successes throughout the community. 

“I would say the city of Bethlehem’s department is doing better than, I would say, any other city around,” Reynolds said. “There is always more work to do, but between our police department internally and our HR department, there has been an incredible amount of work done.” 

Regarding the $39,617 grant, Reynolds said these types of federal grant funds are a huge help in accomplishing goals for the safety of Bethlehem.

As the grant description states, the funds range from risk-avoidance programs to software development and technological advancements. 

For example, the department will repurchase valuable mobile data terminals, known as MDTs (in-car computers), as well as update their software program and PowerDMS, which helps efficiently organize documents for remote retrieval.  

The DMS software also helps the department stay accredited throughout the state and globally. 

“One of the things that we are constantly trying to do is run a police department that utilizes technology to make our citizens safer,” Reynolds said. “Repurchasing and continuously improving hardware and software will help us meet that goal.” 

Bryan Callahan, a recently elected member of the city council, voted in favor of the grant. 

“We want to save the Southside for college students, Bethlehem residents and tourists, as we want everyone to come down the Hill and spend money in our stores,” Callahan said. “We want you to be safe, so that is why I voted for the grant.” 

For the last 19 years, the Justice Assistance Grant  has provided local and state law enforcement with over $7.6 billion. 

The amount of grant money given depends on the department’s performance metrics, as well as crime rates in the specific area. Based on the JAG’s financial distribution of this grant, 60% of the funds are given to the state itself, leaving the other 40% for smaller departments within the state. 

Grace Crampsie Smith, vice president of Bethlehem City Council, spoke about her personal experience with police officers in her family, showing her support for new technology. 

She said it is important for police officers to work with the most up-to-date technology, as these in-car computers allow for research and lead to taking the right steps immediately. 

This allows better communication between officers and the station, as well. 

“I do come from a family of police, as my dad was a police chief, my nephew is on the SWAT team at the U.S. Capitol and my other nephews are state policemen and detectives,” Crampsie Smith said. “I know a little bit about what they go through and this grant is revamping their technology to allow them to be right where they are needed.” 

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