Sher­iff’s tech up­grade OK’d

Board re­vis­its re­quest to en­hance of­fice’s mo­bile com­mand ve­hi­cle

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By TA­MARA WARD tward@somd­news.com

The Calvert County com­mis­sion­ers had a change of heart and ap­proved, with­out dis­cus­sion, a bud­get ad­just­ment of $76,200 to up­grade the Calvert County Sher­iff’s Of­fice’s mo­bile com­mand ve­hi­cle this week.

The “new” busi­ness item on Tues­day’s agenda was ini­tially pre­sented to the board in Septem­ber by Lt. Col. Dave McDow­ell, who re­quested, via memo, funds from the “Safety Cam­era Pro­gram” to up­date the mo­bile unit’s “ob­so­lete” tech­nol­ogy.

Ac­cord­ing to McDow­ell’s Sept. 19 memo, the mo­bile com­mand ve­hi­cle en­ables sher­iff’s of­fice

per­son­nel and pub­lic safety part­ners to re­spond any­where in the county and al­lows for the ef­fec­tive man­age­ment “of crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions in a self-sus­tained uni­fied com­mand en­vi­ron­ment.”

The “Safety Cam­era Pro­gram” term in McDow­ell’s memo is a ref­er­ence to the board of com­mis­sion­ers’ “Safety for Stu­dents Pro­gram,” an ef­fort fo­cused on re­duc­ing speed­ing vi­o­la­tions in des­ig­nated school zones.

Rev­enue re­ceived by the county from that pro­gram must first be used to re­cover the costs of im­ple­ment­ing and ad­min­is­ter­ing the pro­gram. The re­main­ing bal­ance will be used for pub­lic safety pur­poses, as set forth by the com­mis­sion­ers in the county’s an­nual bud­get. Cur­rently, there are ap­prox­i­mately $600,000 of non-bud­geted speed cam­era rev­enues col­lected within the gen­eral fund.

In Septem­ber, Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Evan Slaugh­en­houpt (R) and Com­mis­sioner Pat Nut­ter (R), a for­mer sher­iff’s deputy, ex­pressed op­po­si­tion to the plan to ex­tract funds from the speed cam­era rev­enues col­lected to fi­nance the ef­fort.

“I can­not sup­port this re­quest and the rea­son­ing [has] noth­ing to do with the need or the tech­nol­ogy,” Slaugh­en­houpt said, not­ing the pa­ram­e­ters for the use of funds. “These are funds that are not sher­iff’s of­fice. These are pub­lic safety funds.”

Slaugh­en­houpt said he pre­vi­ously in­sisted any fu­ture re­quest like that one be co­or­di­nated with the pub­lic safety di­rec­tor and the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

“See­ing there has been no such co­or­di­na­tion, at least not doc­u­mented, I can­not sup­port this,” Slaugh­en­houpt added, to which Nut­ter con­curred, both en­ter­ing a no vote.

Com­mis­sioner Mike Hart (R) and Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Tom Hejl (R), a for­mer as­sis­tant sher­iff, voted in fa­vor of

the ef­fort. How­ever, Com­mis­sioner Steve Weems (R) was ab­sent, at­tend­ing a fu­neral, leav­ing the vote split and ul­ti­mately deny­ing the re­quest for the bud­get ad­just­ment.

Slaugh­en­houpt di­rected staff to co­or­di­nate with the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety be­fore re­sub­mit­ting the re­quest at a later date. This month, Dow­ell pre­sented the re­quest with writ­ten con­cur­rence from State’s At­tor­ney Laura Martin (R) and Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Safety Jac­que­line Vaughan, prompt­ing the board to vote unan­i­mously in fa­vor of the bud­get ad­just­ment green-light­ing the $76,200 mo­bile com­mand ve­hi­cle up­grade.

“A res­o­lu­tion is not re­quired for a bud­get ad­just­ment of this amount,” County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Terry Shan­non told the board, not­ing the leg­isla­tive amend­ment al­low­ing bud­get ad­just­ments less than $150,000, the pub­lic hear­ing thresh­old, to pro­ceed with­out a res­o­lu­tion just went into af­fect Oct. 1, the start of the state’s fis­cal year.

While the board did not dis­cuss its prior ap­pre­hen­sion with the sher­iff’s of­fice re­quest Tues­day, Slaugh­en­houpt shared his rea­son­ing for his re­ver­sal with The Calvert Recorder af­ter­wards.

“The co­or­di­na­tion piece was the only item for me be­cause when the pro­gram was es­tab­lished we made sure the funds were not solely for law en­force­ment. Funds go into pub­lic safety, not the sher­iff’s of­fice, for use over a wide range of pub­lic safety needs,” Slaugh­en­houpt said, not­ing the co­or­di­na­tion demon­strated that other pos­si­ble needs would or could be con­sid­ered.

Capt. David Payne in­formed the Recorder that the sher­iff’s of­fice bought the mo­bile unit back in 2007 for $748,240 us­ing a grant from the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment.

The 54,000-pound freight-liner built by MBF In­dus­tries has a mod­u­lar re-mount­able alu­minum body, three slide-outs, two equip­ment racks, a walk-

through cab, sev­ern for­ward work­sta­tions, a gal­ley, a con­fer­ence room with a table to seat eight, ad­di­tional bench seat­ing, a me­dia of­fi­cer work­sta­tion, an ex­te­rior work­sta­tion, an elec­tric awning and curb­side and rear en­trances.

Tech­nol­ogy in­cludes a Cisco in­ter­op­er­abil­ity pack­age, a 56foot mast sys­tem, two 42-inch plasma TVs, one smart­board, one 37-inch LCD screen split­ter, a 20-kilo­watt gen­er­a­tor and emer­gency light pack­age, ex­te­rior graph­ics, two white­boards, an in­ter­com sys­tem, a dig­i­tal recorder, a cab com­puter mount, a ra­dio charger, a weather sta­tion and GPS and more.

The cap­tain con­firmed the depart­ment is not buy­ing a new unit, just up­grad­ing the tech­nol­ogy to in­clude new com­put­ers, soft­ware and com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment.

“The pre­lim­i­nary stages have be­gun,” McDow­ell told the Recorder, not­ing the up­grade will be com­plete be­fore year’s end.

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