Video conferencing is now being used by local police officers in Coos Bay and North Bend, Oregon. Officers are now able to testify to the grand jury without having to leave their respective stations. Before now, their police officers had to make a 25 minute drive each way to the Coquille Courthouse to provide their required testimony. With the new Internet system, officers are able to view the grand jury from on-site interview rooms and the grand jury can view the officer via monitor in the courthouse.
The agency is now finding that the small investment of about $400 for the equipment required to run the program, will be a cost saving endeavor. With gas prices continuing to rise and the cost of wear and tear to police vehicles, the costs associated with video conferencing will be recouped almost immediately.
Currently, there are at least three officers per week that are called to the courthouse. Each officer waits at least 1 ½ hours to testify in their trail. With the new video conferencing system in place, officers will be able to complete work and other in-house tasks instead of wasting time waiting in a courthouse, thereby making them more productive.
In the near future, the District Attorney also plans on using the video conferencing system as well. Very soon the agency will be having witnesses who are subpoenaed outside of the county or state, also use this new service. The county will arrange for witnesses to go to a conference call site in their area and pipe in their testimony directly into the courthouse. This will save the county the travel expenses for those witnesses.