Co. Law Enforcement Discusses 5-Year Plan
With current jail populations running consistently near the Marinette County Jail's capacity, it should come as no surprise that soon or later the idea of putting in an additional pod to the current facility would pop up on the radar. This very topic surfaced at the Monday, May 13 meeting of the County's Law Enforcement Committee.
The discussion was held as part of the Committee's consideration of an updated Five-year Capital Improve-ment Plan (CIP). Every department in the County has been asked by Administrator Ellen Sorensen to renew the initial plan developed last year for their department. Her purpose is to eventually set a realistic schedule of capital improvements that can be implemented with the constraints of the county's resources for budget year 2014, but the planning document would also have the effect of giving the County Board an idea of future needs in each department.
Once the CIPs from all departments are submitted, the Finance Committee will review and put together a plan for 2014 to the County Board for a decision.
A review of the CIP for Law Enforcement includes 2014 projects and costs are concrete slab and storage Building for Law Enforce-ment Center-$277,000; Patrol Cars-$140,000; Inves-tigator Vehicle-$56,000; Changeovers, decals, lightbars, grill guards, etc.-$30,000. According to the document, the vehicles and accessories would be paid out of the county sales tax and the Storage Building would come from Debt Service.
The 2015 spending plan includes patrol cars, an investigator vehicle, and accessories for a total of $254,000. The spending plan for 2016 drops to $198,000 and includes a fewer number of vehicles.
For 2017, the project plan is for new radios for $312,000. This was included because the federal government is hinting at changing their requirements from the current banding down to what is called Quarter Banding. Vehicle replacements are also included in the 2017 plan.
For 2018, the idea of new jail pod makes its first appearance on the spending plan. The projected cost is $9 million. The document also lists the funding as coming from Debt Service.
Sorensen explained that the jail pod was put on for 2018 just in case the Committee decides to think about it in the future. She stressed that the CIP is just a planning document to let the County Board and the public know what the Committee is thinking about.
Sorensen went on to explain that Marinette County has a tendency to cash flow major projects: in other words, to try to find the money within the current budget year resources. With a number of large items coming, she said it was not a bad idea to start thinking about alternate ways to fund these kinds of things.
The only item on the CIP for Emergency Management was a Countywide (county owned buildings) security and surveillance camera system. The item has a price tag of $140,200, and was placed in the 2014 plan.
The only item on the CIP for Dispatch was the replacement of the four-position dispatch console in 2018 for an estimated price of $360,000. This, too, would be funded by Debt Service.
With a number of projects planned to be paid for by Debt Service in the year and years ahead, it appears that some within county government are at the point of asking the county to go into debt to pay for some of these project by the issuance of bonds. With the current rates of borrowing money near all-time lows, this would make sense. Yet at the same time, by increasing what is spent on Capital Projects the County would also be able to raise the tax levy, according to current budget rules coming from Madison. Instead of borrowing, the county could also spend down some of the $36+ million it has in investments.
In other matters, the Committee approved a resolution to the County Board to spend no more than $150,000 to update the current 911 phone system.
According to Communi-cation Director Terry Zimmerman, the current 911 system hardware is over five years old. New software upgrades are available, but the proprietary hardware will not support it. The hardware warrantee runs out in June. Last year, the system had server go down and had to run for 8 weeks on a back-up server
Information Services Director Larry Schultz explained that it would be advantageous to move this project from next year's appropriation to this year. For $150,000, the county can replace the current hardware and software with equipment that allows upgradeability, especially with 911 text and picture accessibility on the horizon.
Zimmerman continued the thought by explaining that work is being finalized nationwide on a national standard for 911 text and picture/video reception. The new hardware/software upgrades that are being proposed would be able to handle this technology when it becomes available and the phone companies can deliver it.
Another upside to upgrading is that the proposed vendor has full maintenance people working out of Marinette and Wausaukee who could provide immediate service should a problem surface. The current vendor is located almost a day's trip away.
The Committee forwarded the recommendation to the Finance Committee and then to the County Board.
Assistant Communications Director Kirsten Bellisle updated the Committee on the staffing in dispatch, which has one new person fully trained and up to speed and one new person in training.
She said with a tinge of sadness that this meeting was Terry Zimmerman's last meeting since his retirement is effective on June 3. Zimmerman countered that he was starting to actually get excited and that he was confident he was leaving Com-munications in good hands.
The Dispatch report showed that 911 calls in the month of April were very close to the levels of last year. The percentage of 911 calls coming in by wireless phones has now surpassed 75 percent. Bellisle also reported that by the end of June, the Reverse 911 system would be operational.
The public information stage would be starting soon. The Committee discussed different ways of getting the word out that in order to receive a call warning of an emergency or disaster in a neighborhood or area, the public will have to register their wireless devices.
Emergency Management Director Erik Burmeister received permission to research hosting a 2-day ALICE Active Shooter Instructor Training Course. The training would be for Law Enforcement, Emergen-cy Management, Business owners and schools to deal with an active shooter situation. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Confront, and Evacuate. The training would have no cost to the county.
Burmeister went on to deliver updates on Port Security grants, drills and trainings at county buildings, and the County's response to the Town of Wagner on May 1 to 5 in regard to minor flooding.
In connection with Wagner, the Town declared a state of emergency as the Menominee River rose above flood stage in their area. The County provided signs and barricades as well as made sandbags available. Luckily, the river went down as quickly as it rose.
The problem of a failing video conference system in the courthouse prompted the Committee to forward a resolution to the Finance Com-mittee to find $175,000 to completely replace the current system.
The most noticeable use of the videoconferencing equipment is that it allows inmates to appear via video from the jail. The current system is over 10 years old and has been patched and jury-rigged (sorry) many times over the years. IS Director Larry Schultz reported that no vendor wants to touch the current system in order to fix or update it. The entire system needs to be replaced.
The system is used for more than just the courts. In the past, Corporation Counsel and Administration have reported many and valuable uses they have had for the system.
Jail Administrator Majew-ski added that a new system could allow juveniles to appear for most court hearings from the comfort of the Brown County Juvenile facility. It would also allow witnesses who are in the prison system to appear as witnesses from where they are incarcerated. This would definitely save the county money in travel and transportation costs.
Sheriff Sauve asked Schultz about the timeline should the County Board find and approves the funding. Schultz replied that the state contract lists installation and operability within six to eight weeks at the longest.
The Committee gave permission for the jail to advertise for proposals to purchase an inmate telephone system. The current contract ends in August, and by contract, cannot be extended any more.
Approval was also given for the jail to advertise for proposals to purchase new jail security controls. By upgrading to new technology that is available, the controls would mesh very well with the new camera/SVR system that was recently installed. This project would not cost the county additional money since it will be covered by savings within the current budget.
Majewski reported that a Corrections Officer Corporal is retiring. Work has begun on replacement. Majewski complimented the Correc-tional Officers and staff on their excellent work the past few weeks, especially with the number of needy inmates who were there at the time.
The jail population for April averaged over 140. The highest date was April 28, with 154 inmates. A snapshot of population on May 10 showed that there were 42 inmates awaiting sentencing for felony offenses, 17 who have been sentenced for felonies (most awaiting transportation to the state), 13 who had their probation revoked , 12 who are awaiting decision on their probation violations, 10 who have been sentenced for misdemeanors, and several smaller categories. A chart of the offenses shows that the highest categories are still drug and alcohol related.
Sheriff Jerry Sauve reported that the Department had received a letter of thanks from the Peshtigo Police Department for Marinette County's help with a recent homicide in the city.
Sauve mentioned that it is currently National Police Week. He noted that he had attended a ceremony at the Marinette Police Department memorializing those officers across the country that died in the line of duty. Sauve added that he was working on have a similar ceremony next year at the Law Enforcement Center.
Sauve reported that with the long-awaited arrival of spring, his department has seen a drastic uptick in traffic and other issues that require officer involvement.
One of the appropriations approved by the Committee mentioned recent donations to the Sheriff's Department Canine Unit. The Committee thanked the Peshtigo Woman's Club, Same Hogan and Eugene Franks for their recent donations, which totaled $650.
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