A new tool for law
enforcement may soon be in use by the Porter County Sheriff’s Police.
The Porter County
Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday in favor of a $234,000 appropriation in the
Sheriff’s grant funds to cover the cost of the first two phases of body-worn
and in-vehicle cameras and communication systems from Utility Inc.,
contingent on approval of the contract by the County Board of Commissioners
and review by County Attorney Scott McClure and Council Attorney Harold
Edie Hahn, business
manager for the Sheriff’s Department, said the funds will pay for this year
and the next but the contract is for five years at a total of $468,000. The
contract will be presented to the Commissioners on Aug. 15 for
consideration. Hahn said there could be some charges in the ordinance to
help pay for the system in the future.
“This is going to
cover every officer and every car for five years,” she said.
PCSP Maj. Gary Gear
said the system will have unlimited storage within a cloud computing system.
Officers will have cameras hidden in their shirts, which are voice
activated. The system has a few other features like being able to identify
the caliber of a gun if it records a gun shot.
and uploads immediately. It’s state-of-the-art, really good stuff,” Gear
said. Patrol officers will have cameras and so will their vehicles.
Detectives can use them to take pictures at crime scenes.
are currently using body cameras but not in their cars, Gear sad. Other
counties in Indiana are already using this type of system, such as Hendricks
Gear and Hahn said
a policy will be created to determine what videos will be saved.
Council member Andy
Bozak, R-1st, asked if it “would be a lot of work” to find a video should
someone file a request for records. Gear said it will be a little time
consuming but the Utility system is more user-friendly than other models the
PCSP looked at. The system can also redact people’s faces from the videos,
Mike Jessen, R-4th, asked what the plan is to fund the system long term.
Hahn said the contract can be renegotiated after the five years are up and a
renewal shouldn’t be as large since the first years include implementation
costs. The yearly cost after that would be about $60,000.
The Council debated
whether to table the request until the attorneys had a chance to read the
contract and determine what the termination clause is. The majority
preferred not to. Council member Karen Conover, R-3rd, made the motion
contingent on the attorneys’ review which prevailed by a unanimous vote.
“I think this is
valuable tool for public safety to do their job,” said Council member Jeremy
Other approvals for
the Sheriff’s Police include appropriations of $12,000 to pay for a
continuing documentary on heroin use in Porter County and $6,000 to purchase
rifles for K9 Patrol officers, both out of the Sheriff’s Donation Fund.
A transfer of
$7,500 in the Jail Inmate Processing Fund was approved to purchase a drug
The Council also
held a half-hour discussion with Chris Diltz, an administrator for the
Sheriff’s Retirement Plan. Diltz was invited to speak to the Council about
how the plan is working after the Council approved an amendment that allows
retired PCSP officers to name a beneficiary if they are unmarried.
To explore more
ways to improve the plan, Council member Dan Whitten, D-at large, suggested
to form a committee to do a study. On the committee will be Council members
Rivas, Sylvia Graham, D-at large, Jeff Larson, R-at large, and County
Auditor Vicki Urbanik.
“I’m not looking at
savings just to have a savings. We are looking for places where we can find
some money to give back to the Sheriff’s Department,” Whitten said.
In other business,
the Council approved, on a 7-0 vote, a new engineer position for the
Development and Stormwater Management Department. The position has an annual
salary of $65,000 and will assist Stormwater Engineer Mike Novotney. The
Council agreed to appropriate $33,000 for the salary through the end of this
commended the department for its work this summer on inspecting culverts
throughout the county, which is being done with the help of interns.
Novotney said about 120 culverts have been identified as needing repairs.