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Officers train in Augusta on new breath alcohol testers

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 7:22 PM
Last updated 9:15 PM
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About 90 officers from across the state trained this week in Augusta for the new, advanced breath alcohol testers, which will replace current models Georgia police have used since the mid-1990s.

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Deputy Kent Myers (left) watches as Deputy Russell Schaffer demonstrates how to use the new Intoxilyzer 9000 during a training session.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Deputy Kent Myers (left) watches as Deputy Russell Schaffer demonstrates how to use the new Intoxilyzer 9000 during a training session.

“We have recently decided to transition from the other system to the new one for sustainability purposes,” said Chris Tilson, the manager of the implied consent section of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Division of Forensic Sciences.

The Intoxilyzer 5000 has been used in Georgia since 1995, but the machine will be decommissioned Dec. 31, 2015 as agencies make the switch to the Intoxilyzer 9000.

Tilson said the current machine is still a good piece of equipment, but replacement parts are becoming an issue. After evaluating three options, Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials chose the 9000-model, which had the highest composite test score.

The three-year gap between the initial decision and systems’ decommissioning allows the 8,500 Georgia officers to obtain updated permits and gives departments time to purchase the equipment – which costs about $8,000each.

At this point, the GBI is on schedule to complete training before the end of 2015. Tilson said he hopes to see another 3,000 officers trained in the next 12 months.

About 40 of the 90 officers who trained with the new system during the four-hour class on Monday and Tuesday were Richmond County officers.

Tilson, who taught the class, said most officers breeze through the course.

“All the major functions are the same,” he said. “It’s just getting through the screens, reading the reports and (understanding) the error messages.”

Other changes include a touchscreen, a faster computer with the ability to store more information and test results, and a feature that allows officers to assess how well the person is providing a breath sample. Tilson said the new systems have not been installed yet, but should begin appearing in October.

Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Lewis Blanchard said the county has used grant money to help purchase three Intoxilyzer 9000s. The department hopes to have them in use by early 2014. They will replace existing machines at the 401 Walton Way booking area, the Phinizy Road jail and in the DUI van.

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bubbasauce 09/11/13 - 10:55 am
Replacement parts an issue?

Replacement parts an issue? That's a good one there. I can get parts to a piece of equipment 30 or 40 years old. I would be willing to bet these new 9000 models cost a pretty penny though. If the older models work just fine, then have them repaired with parts from the other ones that don't. But noooo since this is taxpayer money we will order brand spanking new ones!

bubbasauce 09/11/13 - 11:54 am
Yes people, they are

Yes people, they are $7,000.00 a pop. How you like that? Man I'm in the wrong business! Wow!

gotellitonthemountain 09/11/13 - 04:00 pm
Law enforcement loves new equipment

I worked in law enforcement for 12 years and learned firsthand that the top two priorities for officers were new weapons and new patrol cars, in that order. One would have to look long and hard to find a law enforcement officer who would decline the chance to have something new of any description, including breath alcohol testers.

itsanotherday1 09/11/13 - 10:38 pm
In the high tech world, 18

In the high tech world, 18 years is a long, LONG time. The 5000's are probably several generations of software behind, not to mention the obsolescence of available parts. You may cannibalize a unit or two to keep the old stuff limping, but what do those departments that gave theirs up do?
Beefing about gov waste is valid, but this one doesn't fit the argument. If my freedom depended on a reliable BAC, I want the best technology available.

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