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home : news : news Saturday, May 28, 2016

3/5/2014 Email this articlePrint this article 
Supervisors approve purchasing new laptops for squad cars

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

Technology in Clinton County squad cars will get an upgrade after the Clinton County Board of Supervisors approved spending $119,726.30 to purchase new laptops and wireless connectivity equipment for the sheriff's office fleet of 14 squad cars.

Funding will come from a $165,000 line item originally designated for upgrades to the county's real estate and tax software.

That upgrade has been pushed back to fiscal year 2016, information technology (IT) director Betsy Smith said, allowing the county to move forward more quickly with the squad car improvements.

The sheriff's office previously planned to make the upgrade in fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1.

The county is purchasing the equipment from Keltek Inc. of Baxter. In addition to 14 "toughbook" laptops, the county will receive 14 InMotion brand wireless connectivity devices.

Tom Paarmann, patrol supervisor for the sheriff's office, said the laptops are needed to replace computers nearing the end of their five-year projected life cycle, while the InMotion equipment will replace the air cards the sheriff's office currently uses to access the Internet in patrol vehicles.

"What InMotion does for us is merges the connections outside the car," Paarmannn said.

Instead of over-the-counter air cards, "This is a communications-grade service that runs the air card and Wi-Fi," Paarmannn explained.

The InMotion equipment reduces the processing load on the computers by managing all of the Internet-connected technology in squad cars, including GPS, Wi-Fi and the video feed from dashboard cameras, Smith said.

"These InMotion (devices) manage every connection those squad cars need," Smith said.

They also manage the TRACS and MACH software used by the sheriff's office, Paarmann said.

TRACS stands for traffic and criminal software. Deputies use the program to create almost all the paperwork they use, from accident reports and traffic citations to deer tags and tow sheets, Paarmann said.

MACH, which strands for mobile architecture computer handling, is a program used to track the locations of all Clinton County squad cars as well as state vehicles, such as highway patrol officers and department of transportation (DOT) personnel, he said.

Paarmannn said the sheriff's office has been running a trial version of the equipment in one squad car since last November and hasn't experienced any problems.

Paarmannn noted the InMotion equipment has a higher up-front cost than its competitor, Netmotion, but does not have an ongoing monthly fee and has an expected lifespan of 10-12 years.

Supervisor Brian Schmidt asked if it's appropriate to pay for public safety equipment using money from a line item in the IT department budget.

Lincoln said the sheriff's office previously contracted for IT services and had a separate line item for the expense, but reverted to county support and transferred the funding back when the department hired additional personnel several years ago.

The supervisors approved a motion to proceed with the purchase 2-0. Supervisor Jill Davisson was absent.

Case management workload easing

The workload for Clinton County case managers is expected to ease in coming months as the state transitions to a new model of care for individuals with chronic mental illness, case management director Patti Robinson reported.

Individuals diagnosed with chronic mental illness are being transitioned to a new state program known as Independent Health Homes, and the six-month transition period begins in April, when clients will begin receiving care through Bridgeview Community Mental Health Center, Robinson said.

"So we're down to crunch time as far as how we are going to manage this transition," she said.

Once the transition is made, county case managers should see a drop in caseloads from 35 per person to a more manageable 27 per person, Robinson said.

"It's going to be a pretty stable caseload once we get to that point," she said.

Robinson said she previously was concerned the transition would force the county to reduce staff, but she no longer believes layoffs will be necessary.

Robinson noted one long-time staff member is leaving her office this month, and a temporary position created to assist in preparing for the transition will be terminated April 11.

Other business

In other business, the board:

•Approved the appointment of Chris Meier to fill a vacancy on the civil service commission through Jan. 1, 2018.

•Approved the appointment of David Necker and Steve Mosier to two-year terms on the Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Authority.

•Approved a resolution to proceed with the installation of an emergency generator at the administration building. Bids are due April 10 and will be opened at 10 a.m. that day. The board of supervisors will award a contract April 21.

•Approved the retirement of Linda Miller from the position of clerk II in the treasurer's office.

•Approved property tax suspension requests for Kymber L. Just, 430 8th Ave. S., Clinton; Sherry Walling, 1145 Keith Court, Clinton; Richard C. Lampe III, 631 9th Ave. S., Clinton; and Jeffrey A. Soboroff, 193 2nd St., Calamus.

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