Funding awarded to purchase up-to-date technology, related infrastructure
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 10, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced more than $1.6 million in federal funding has been awarded to Kentucky public safety agencies and eligible non-profit organizations to purchase up-to-date technology and related infrastructure in response to the continued challenges bought on by COVID-19 and better serve Kentuckians by enhancing access to virtual legal and court proceedings.
“While the state’s weekly COVID-19 cases and positivity rates continue to decline we know that this virus is here to stay for the long haul, and we must adjust accordingly,” Gov. Beshear said. “This funding allows our public safety agencies to serve their clients in a safe and efficient way, while continuing to respond to COVID-19 without hindering emergent services and better protecting the commonwealth well into the future.”
Gov. Beshear and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet announced the U.S. Department of Justice’s (USDOJ) Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CESF) has awarded grant funding to the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass and the Marion-Crittenden County E-911 Board.
Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts
The Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts has been awarded $1,146,200 to purchase desktop computers for each of the 468 Kentucky circuit and district judicial branches. This funding will allow Kentucky’s judges to easily access electronic court records while serving on the bench during a hearing or trial.
“Like the rest of state government, the Judicial Branch has worked tirelessly to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic with minimal disruption to our citizens,” said Administrative Office of the Courts Director Laurie K. Givens. “We’re grateful for this funding and ready to put it to immediate use by providing technology that will make it easier for our judges to handle both filings and appearances electronically so that cases can move forward without the parties being physically present.”
Funds will also be used to increase the state’s capacity to offer more virtual court, which will enhance the safety, security and efficiency of law enforcement by not having to transport justice-involved individuals to and from court.
Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey stated that law enforcement agencies across the commonwealth are facing a recruitment and retention issue, similar to many public safety agencies across the nation, and that the cabinet is hopeful this funding will help to alleviate some of those manpower issues of traveling throughout the state every day for court appearances.
“It is not unusual for law enforcement agencies to have several officers and deputies assigned to transporting inmates to and from prison to court on a daily basis,” Secretary Harvey said. “This takes time away from our law enforcement patrolling the streets and protecting our communities. With the state now offering more virtual court appearances, we will be able to alleviate some of this strain and better respond to emergencies.”
Legal Aid of the Bluegrass
In Aug. 2020, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass was awarded $119,745 to equip 83 counties with legal zoom rooms to remove technology barriers, and provide a safe and confidential environment. Today, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass is being awarded $110,000 to expand upon that initiative by launching theSafety Enhancements from COVID Using Remote Environments for Legal Services (SECURE) project and fully equip staff with the tools needed for effective virtual lawyering.
This project will:
- Implement IT security and infrastructure improvements to better support remote client interaction
- Create easier-to-access web and cloud-based services to promote secure remote interaction for staff dealing with confidential materials
- Effectively equip legal staff to promote enhanced efficient remote client service
As part of the application, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass indicated that this funding will further enhance staff flexibility and access to clients. The organization said they will be able to reach isolated clients such as the elderly, young families with children, victims of domestic violence and other vulnerable populations. Additionally, it will equip Legal Aid of the Bluegrass staff with the tools needed to serve clients in this new world of hybrid and virtual legal services and assure that all their clients can access both legal and self-help resources as needed.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the civil legal problems of many as they struggle to keep their home, maintain their income and stay healthy and safe. The funding received from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program will be used to strengthen tools which help us meet clients where they are,” said Legal Aid of the Bluegrass Executive Director Joshua Crabtree. “Project Secure promotes accessible virtual lawyering by bolstering our technological infrastructure and allowing us to deliver high quality legal help online.”
Marion-Crittenden County E-911 Board
To further his investments in law enforcement so the commonwealth can be a leader in public safety, the Governor said Marion-Crittenden County E-911 has been awarded $400,000 to modernize the local dispatch center to improve efficiency of dispatching calls for services and better protect employee health and safety from COVID-19. Upgrades to include the dispatch center’s Computer Aided Dispatch and NCIC capabilities, new 9-1-1 and radio consoles and HVAC modifications to improve indoor air quality and employee health.
Gov. Beshear said with this grant, his administration is taking another step forward in creating a safer Kentucky for future generations by equipping Kentucky’s telecommunicators with the latest technology and infrastructure to not only keep law enforcement officers and Kentuckians safe at all times, but helping to ensure the employees themselves are safe and protected from COVID-19 and poor indoor air quality.
Marion-Crittenden County E-911 serves as the primary dispatch services for Crittenden County, a community of approximately 9,300 bordering the Ohio River in Western Kentucky. The E-911 agency, overseen by a locally-appointed board of directors, is responsible for receiving and directing response to all 911 calls originating in Crittenden County, as well as non-emergency calls for law enforcement, EMS or other responder agency assistance.
“This grant will help a small agency like us have the resources to respond to our current COVID crisis that our budget wouldn’t allow us otherwise. Our community and our responders will benefit from all the upgrades to our center’s technology and equipment,” said Marion-Crittenden County E911 Director Kellye Dalton.
Since the first COVID-19 case in Kentucky, Gov. Beshear has taken vigilant steps to protect Kentuckians from this deadly virus, and those who serve on the front-lines every day as essential first responders. In collaboration with the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, the Beshear-Coleman administration has awarded more than $8 million to Kentucky’s public safety agencies and eligible local governments in the fight against COVID-19. For more information click here and here.
Read about other key updates, actions and information from Gov. Beshear and his administration at governor.ky.gov and the state’s response to COVID-19 at kycovid19.ky.gov.