A County Update After All This Time…

We’re back to reporting on the county this week, starting with some new tech that the Sheriff’s Department is rolling out. We also cover the latest from the Moscow City Council, including the most recent updates on the East City Park Stage Project. Buckle up!

Read the full transcript of the video below:

It feels good to be back in the studio again.

How’s it going y’all? Aiden Anderson here with the Moscow Minutes. For the first time in a while, we’ve got some news from the county as well as from the city this week, so let’s get right into it.

The county commissioners have made some strides forward with a Community Development Block Grant application for the Princeton-Hampton area. The main highlight for this week however, is some new tech that the Sheriff’s department is trying out right now.

This week, the Sheriff’s department presented on the rollout of some new camera tech for their officer’s uniforms and their patrol vehicles. I had a chance to speak with a few folks including Captain Shane Anderson and current Sheriff Richie Skiles about the new camera tech and what it means for the department going forward. 

The new body cameras are more compact and less prone to falling off a uniform than the old ones, and come with a number of features, such as a gyroscopic sensor and accelerometer that turn the camera on automatically under a number of circumstances. Though manual control is still possible, the intent is for an officer to be less focused on the state of their camera, and more focused on the situation at hand. Similarly the cameras in the patrol vehicles are meant to activate automatically under certain conditions as well, such as when the officer turns on the vehicle lights.

One of the more impressive features of the new camera system is that all the cameras are connected by an encrypted cloud network, allowing dispatch and officers on duty to see the physical locations of other vehicles and officers, as well as their status. For example, if an officer turns on their vehicle lights and begins a pursuit, the others will be able to see them and their active status on the map and respond accordingly. Officers can also take their own individual pieces of footage and share them with others to keep lines of communication clear and secure. Each patrol vehicle has been outfitted with their own wifi network to keep everyone connected while using this system.

A grant in the amount of roughly $450k provided the funds required for this new camera setup. The plan right now is for all officers and all patrol vehicles in the county to carry cameras that are a part of this new system, and that change will take place very soon.

The Sheriff Department’s old system relied on actively available storage devices to maintain and store footage. This resulted in the department spending a lot of time on downloading and uploading to various servers in order to maintain its volumes of video evidence. With this new system, both time and disk space are significantly streamlined and freed up, allowing the officers to collect more footage and spend more time patrolling the streets. Both the Sheriff and his deputies expressed confidence in the new system and the hope that it will be a great improvement to the efficiency and proficiency of the department.

Now let’s turn our attention to the Moscow city council. Their meeting on Monday began with a proclamation for National Pollinator Week and an annual report from the transportation commission on their past year of activities, including a variety of work on subdivisions and bike paths.

This was followed by a public hearing providing a status update on an Idaho Community Development Block Grant. Alisa Anderson of city staff presented on the progress of various parks projects, a portion of which were funded by a grant received in 2020 in the amount of $225k. The projects in question include restroom remodels at Mountain View Park and a new prefab restroom building at Indian Hills Park.

Since receiving the grant, the projects in question have undergone some changes related to budget difficulties, such as inflation, and challenges finding contractors to complete the work. The city is now considering finishing the projects on its own, and Alisa went through potential future costs associated with this plan, while fielding questions from council. As there was no public comment made and no vote to be taken at this particular hearing, the hearing concluded, and the council moved on.

And now an update on the East City park stage project. If you remember a couple weeks back, there was quite the debate over the decision to hire Design West Architects to produce a 30% conceptual design and cost estimate for the total replacement of the East City Park stage, based on plans from 2010 detailing a different-looking stage design. That vote only passed with a tiebreaker vote from the mayor, with the council divided evenly on the issue.

This week, Ned Warnick of Design West Architects presented on the ideas that led to the design of the stage back in 2010, and the rationale behind revisiting this plan in the present. Council then discussed this update amongst themselves. Some of the same concerns about fiscal responsibility and community transparency were brought up, as well as questions about longevity, legacy, and how different types of stages might serve the community best. 

Let’s take a look at some of the council’s opinions in their own words…

…The last two items moved through relatively quickly. First, city staff presented on a reimbursement agreement with the Homeland Security Joint Task Force to allow the city to be reimbursed for overtime accrued by their own Detective Mowery and his work with the task force. Second, the City considered a preauthorization request for two grants in the amounts of $1.5 million and $3.5 million related to facility development and additional apron space for the Moscow-Pullman regional airport.. Both these items were approved unanimously by the Moscow City Council.

That’s all I have for you this week. As always, we’ll have the relevant links posted with this video, and if you have any questions, please reach out. This is Aiden Anderson with the Moscow Minutes. See you next time.

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