Public safety equipment in need of upgrades

Posted 9/15/21

K-9 Jet to replace K-9 Odin ELLSWORTH – Pierce County Emergency Management Director Christine McPherson presented a solution to the Finance & Personnel Committee related to public safety …

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Public safety equipment in need of upgrades


K-9 Jet to replace K-9 Odin

ELLSWORTH – Pierce County Emergency Management Director Christine McPherson presented a solution to the Finance & Personnel Committee related to public safety equipment upgrades at the Sept. 7 meeting.

The current system was installed in 2017 and includes a public safety services radio system, one master site core, one simulcast prime site, five RF remote sites, one dispatch site with MCC7500 dispatch positions and network equipment.

The current contract with Motorola (for one year) includes technical support, onsite infrastructure response, network preventive maintenance and infrastructure repair. This cost the county $98,993 this year and $123,700 last year.

The contract does not include replacement costs for any hardware or components, software updates or security patches, due to end of life of software programs.

“Pierce County spent a lot of money to purchase public safety equipment,” McPherson said. “But no money has been spent on software patches or updates. We have only bought maintenance.”

According to McPherson, the issues with an annual maintenance only contract are:

•No set or locked pricing year over year. It fluctuates and is renegotiated annually.

•The existing system is still on original hardware and software

•Existing software will no longer be supported after Oct. 1, 2022.

•Third party hardware and software are already in non-supported/best effort condition

•Security patches and updates are no longer available or supported

•No lifecycle plan is in place to continue guaranteed support and extend the system’s life The solution? McPherson proposed a sixyear system upgrade agreement with Motorola. Every two years, the system would receive one upgrade, including labor, hardware and software. The security update service would provide pre-tested third-party software security updates, which would be available monthly or quarterly.

McPherson said that if the county continues with the maintenance only annual contracts, there’s a good chance new equipment would need to be purchased once software is completely obsolete, resulting in a price tag of $600,000 to $1 million, plus the annual $125,000 in maintenance. It would be cost prohibitive to switch to a new system.

The dispatch software is currently running on Windows 7, which will be out of support by Oct. 1, 2022.

“Will it keep working?” McPherson said. “Yes, it might. But we’re more vulnerable to have issues. We would be on our own to figure it out.”

With the six-year contract, the price would be locked in, McPherson said.

“Plus we will be so far out of support” if the county chooses not to get updates that to enter the program later would cost much more, McPherson warned. The equipment in the dispatch center is aging out and could cost another $1 million-plus to replace if updates are not done.

The existing maintenance only services are projected to cost the county: $102,799 in 2022; $105,883 in 2023; $109,059.88 in 2024; $112, 328.91 in 2025; $115,700.73 in 2026; and $119,175 in 2027, totaling $664,947.64 over six years.

The proposed six-year upgrade agreement would cost $398,011.47 (which includes a $71,208.92 discount). In total, the upgrade agreement and maintenance contract would cost the county $991,750.19 over six years.

Features of the upgrade agreement would include: •Major system releases as they become available •Hardware and software updates necessary to maintain the system at the highest level of support and availability

•Labor and technical resources

•Access to the latest standard and optional features of each system

•The county is in its final year of eligibility

•Provides ability to maintain performance and functionality of system operations

•Ability to expand the system if needed

•Provides fiscal stability mitigates risks of unplanned expenses

•Ensures investment and protects against premature deterioration or obsolescence, saving taxpayer dollars The committee voted to send the proposal to the full county board.

K9 donation

The committee approved a resolution accepting a donation from McDonough K-9 of a new K-9 for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. The dog is a 20-month-old German shepherd named Jet; he will replace K-9 Odin.

Because of issues with Odin, McDonough recommended replacing him with a new dog, which would cost $17,500 with training. McDonough is covering this cost.

According to Lt. Herman Kreig, Jet will start bonding with his handler soon, before the new training class starts. Jet should hit the streets in late November, after his training for patrol and narcotic detection is complete.

“I can’t say enough about the value of a K9,” Kreig said. “It saves us a ton of man hours … It’s an asset that really saves a lot time, money and effort when we get to some of these scenes that we deal with.”

Jet’s job will include performing essential public safety duties, such as patrolling the streets, tracking missing person, apprehending suspects and locating evidence.

The resolution will go before the full county board for a vote before it’s official.

“There_were training issues which were affecting canine Odin's certification and it was decided to replace him,” Kreig said by email.


Redistricting Committee Chair Brad Lawrence updated F& P about the redistricting process after the 2020 U.S. Census data was released. Pierce County saw a population increase of 2.9 percent. In 2010, the population was 41,019; that number grew to 42,212 in 2021. The committee is proposing keeping 17 supervisory districts (with roughly 2,483 residents in each), though counties can have up to 31. That number “seems a bit unwieldy,” Lawrence said.

The U.S. Census Bureau is required to deliver census data to states for redistricting by March 31. However, the pandemic delayed the release and Pierce County received data in August. Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican-authored bill in July that would delay local redistricting efforts until 2023 for municipalities and until 2024 for most counties. Evers said the elections next year would not be fair if current maps are kept in place, because they wouldn’t reflect population changes.

Due to the compressed timeline, the Redistricting Committee kicked into high gear and last week sent a tentative map to municipalities for approval. Once those municipal wards/districts are adjusted, the map will go before the full county board in November.

“It’s ambitious, but workable,” Lawrence said. “But we need municipalities to do their diligent work to keep this on track.”

Lawrence said the committee strived to make districts contiguous and compact.

“It’s a lot like squeezing a balloon,” Lawrence said. “The driving goal is having all districts relatively equal (in population) and they’re presumed to be Constitutional if they’re within a 10 percent deviation.”

No changes occurred to Districts 9 (Gilman, Spring Valley, part of Spring Lake), 10 (Rock Elm, El Paso, part of Spring Lake, Elmwood), 17 (Salem, Union, town and village of Maiden Rock) or 13 (Trimbelle, part of Oak Grove).

Districts 11 (part of village and town of Ellsworth), 14 (Hartland, Isabelle, Bay City, part of Trenton), 8 (Martell, part of town of River Falls) and 1 (part of Prescott) were below the desired 5 percent threshold and needed more people.

In districts 8 and 12, the committee chose to follow the school district boundaries, rather than County Road J.

“This allows us to eliminate one or two splits” when creating ballots for that area, County Clerk Jamie Feuerhelm said.

Districts 7, 6 and 4 (all City of River Falls) were way above the 5 percent threshold, Lawrence said, and saw the most changes. The committee shuffled boundaries to accommodate for the population increase. In Prescott, the St. Croix Bluffs neighborhood north of Highway 10 was incorporated into District 1.

The map can be viewed at the courthouse or on the county website.

Other business

•The committee voted to authorize the implementation of the Prime Choice Benefits Plan and a one-time start-up fee of $1,000. The number one reason people don’t retire is they fear they can’t afford health insurance, County Administrator Jason Matthys said. This benefit plan will allow county employees two choices when they either leave in good standing or retire: Their accrued sick time/paid time off can either be rolled into an employee health retirement account or distributed through a deferred play plan. This would help some employees bridge the gap until they are Medicare eligible. It also save employees from paying taxes if the current plan is used, which pays out the accrued funds in the next payroll check.

•The committee approved the purchase of a 2021 Chevy Equinox LS from Quinn Motors for $25,955.50. The vehicle will join the county’s vehicle fleet.

•F& P voted, with Mike Kahlow dissenting, to supplement county employees’ high deductible health plans beginning Jan. 1, 2022 as a retention and recruitment incentive. The county will pay families who enroll $1,000 and individuals $500 out of the health insurance budget; 2022 budgets will be adjusted accordingly.

•The committee entered into closed session to discuss possible litigation regarding the Elmwood communications tower and reviewing wages and benefits for the recommended Veterans Service Officer candidate.