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Body cameras for Sheriff police get approval from County Council

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

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 Harper.

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.

“It’s instantaneous 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.

Valparaiso Police 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 County.

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, he said.

Council President 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 Rivas, D-2nd.

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 inspection workstation.

Sheriff’s retirement plan

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.

Engineer

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 year.

Council members 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.

 

Posted 7/27/2017

 

Posted 7/27/2017

 

Posted 7/27/2017

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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