Whitehall police chief wants to upgrade computers

Whitehall Police Chief Richard Zitzke gave City Council a proposal for a new Mobile Data Computer system for cruisers at the Nov. 13 meeting.  

The units are also known as Mobile Date Terminals, and the ones that  the department currently uses need to be replaced because they are obsolete and inoperable.

He explained that officers use them to receive silently dispatched calls, to view calls that have been dispatched, to access the State Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS), along with many other day-to-day functions.  The system would also allow supervisors and the chief to quickly monitor officers’ locations, and see which calls for service have not yet been answered.  

The current system is seven years old, has exceeded its expected useful life, and has been in need of replacement for some time, according to Zitzke.  Lack of funding in the budget since 2006 has hindered moving forward.

Zitzke is recommending that the Law Enforcement Trust Fund be used to purchase the new system.  That consists of monies received from assets of criminals, such as drug dealers.  

He further explained that the  system is a collaboration between Civica CMI, the current vendor, and the Armada Group, a comprehensive law enforcement field information collection, storage and retrieval system.  

"It would enhance our capabilities, our interoperability, and our efficiency through the application of this leading-edge, complete solution," said Zitzke.

He added that because about eight other central Ohio cities have this same system, they will be able to communicate with each other.  When a traffic stop is made, information will come up if the person has been stopped by Whitehall or any of the other agencies previously, and warn the officer of known problems.  

"This means more cops on the street without more cops on the street," Zitzke said.

It will come in at a cost of just over $107,000.

Zitzke also assured council that his department is continuing to beef up their patrol in the Maplewood Road and Etna Street area.  Money from the Youth Violence Task Force/JAG Byrne Memorial Grant is helping fund the overtime for officer coverage.

Fire Chief Tim Tilton gave council a proposal of a new lease agreement to enable the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Consortium (MECC)  to move to a new, permanent facility.  

The location that is the most feasible, after exploring nine other options, is the Creekside development on Mill Street in Gahanna.  It was identified  by the MECC as the most cost-effective and efficient space.  Tilton said that it will also accommodate projected expansion.

He also discussed replacing a medic unit that has had to have the suspension system repaired six times and replaced five times.

The suspension recently went out on a return from an emergency run, putting everyone in a dangerous situation.  He said that it could have been a disaster if the unit had lost its suspension taking a patient to the hospital.  

Medics make an average of 15 runs per day.  Tilton shared that he and a team will travel to Oshkosh, Wisc., in December to pick up a new fire truck.  

Council received Mayor Lynn Ochsendorf’s proposed 2008 budget.  

Finance committee chairmand and Councilman Zach Woodruff, said that he has already been speaking with the incoming mayor, John Wofe, about the budget.  He wants to see what kind of suggestions or needs Wolfe will offer as he begins his term in January.

Auditor Kim Maggard presented draft legislation that will make salary adjustments for employees bringing the city in compliance with the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLA).  The original ordinance was approved in the early 1990s, and the FLA established new rates in 2005.  The new adjustments will follow suit with those rates.

The next council meeting will be Nov.  20 at 7:30 p.m.


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