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Council approves computers, other items for sheriff’s department

The Harrison County Council funded three requests from the sheriff’s department Monday night including $85,500 for 11 laptop computers and a server to operate cameras for the police cars, $140,000 for inmate meals, and $80,000 for gas, oil and lube. The council tabled the two requests for laptops and inmate meals at its last meeting in order to seek more information.
Rick Bright of Owens Communications brought an example of the ML910 ‘ruggedized’ notebook computer for the council to examine. Bright explained the difference between the model requested by the sheriff’s department and the $3,500 model found on the company’s Web site.
The $3,500 model, Bright said, was the baseline option that did not include many functions offered to the sheriff’s department including an extra gig of RAM, DVD combo drive, internal modem, high-tier docking station and an adapter.
Councilwoman Rhonda Rhoads said she thought the docking station for the notebook computer should be included. Bright responded that some people would not have any use for the docking station and other generic docking stations are offered; however, the high-tier station is the best for the officers.
In response to Rhoads’ question whether the officers will need much training for the system, Bright said they would not.
‘It only takes basic computer knowledge with the touch screen,’ said Bright, adding that Owens Communications will train the county police officers.
The computers will work in adverse weather conditions.
‘You can spill an entire cup of coffee on it and it will still work,’ Bright said.
The computers will allow the officers to use the cameras the county has already purchased in addition to electronically completing tickets and reports.
When the request came up for vote, Rhoads said she was concerned because she did not know if they needed all of the different options.
‘If you don’t understand the investment, you shouldn’t invest,’ she said. ‘I know they need cameras; I want them to have cameras.’
Councilwoman Leslie Robertson said it would be cheaper to purchase the features now instead of waiting until the wireless option is available.
The council unanimously passed the motion.
Rhoads asked police Chief Eric Fischer to speak with Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick about the use of the equipment.
‘I have concerns about things from the past not being used,’ she said. ‘I’m not opposed to our (officers) getting what they need; I just want to make sure they use it.’
‘They will,’ said Fischer. ‘My motto is, ‘You use it or lose it.’ ‘
The council approved the other two sheriff’s requests ‘ inmate meals and gas ‘ with a 5-1 vote. Carl (Buck) Mathes, Robertson, Ralph Sherman, William T. (Bill) Nichols and Gordon Pendleton voted in favor. (Councilman Chris Timberlake acted as chairman for the evening because Mathes was unable to make the beginning of the meeting.) Rhoads opposed both measures.
Rhoads said she asked jail matron Joyce Deatrick to provide information about the inmates’ meals.
‘We haven’t received anything yet,’ Rhoads said. ‘I wanted to see it before we vote.’
Legal counsel Shawn Donahue researched the funding source question for inmate meals and said it can be taken out of the CEDIT fund. The gas, oil and lube request came out of riverboat funds.
In other news Monday night, the council approved $3,000 for computer systems maintenance out of the county economic development fund with a 5-1 vote, with Rhoads opposed. The council unanimously approved $1,185 for liability insurance for the health department.
Out of the riverboat fund, the council approved $4,000 for non-reimbursable court costs with a 5-1 vote (Pendleton was opposed), and $28,000 for the 2009 budget for Leadership Harrison County with a 5-1 vote (Sherman was opposed). The council unanimously approved $2,895 for the auditor’s office and $2,298 for the clerk’s office out of riverboat funds.
The council will vote on, among other things, a $500,000 request for highway equipment, $221,424 for emergency medical services, $55,168 for the Solid Waste District and $37,500 for the parks department at its next meeting, Monday, Aug. 11, at 7:30 p.m.
In the meantime, the council will hold budget hearings next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 4:30 p.m. each day at the courthouse.