Falk Adds Additional 3 Detectives, ‘Priority Fire Dispatch’ in 2007 Budget
September 26, 2006
Three detectives, one crime victim/witness specialist, a first-in-state fire dispatch system, a new emergency radio system, 20 new Sheriff vehicles, a security camera system and construction dollars for the jail system-expanding Huber Center are among key public safety provisions proposed by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk in her 2007 budget package.
“For the last nine budgets, public safety has been a top priority for my administration -- 2007 is no different,” Falk said. “My goal is to keep our streets safe and our offenders accountable.”
Her 2007 package includes nearly $11 million for personnel and equipment requests from Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin. “The sheriff made a case for these additions and I prioritized and added county dollars to make them happen,” Falk said, noting she has increased the Sheriff’s operating budget by more than $20 million during her tenure to approximately a total of more than $50 million per year.
“The public safety proposals I’m including in my county budget package build upon the county’s longstanding and demonstrated commitment to keeping our residents safe from crime, disaster, accidents and illness.”
Falk on Tuesday released her public safety provisions contained in her proposed 2007 Dane County Operating and Capital Budget. She will deliver the entire budget to the Dane County Board of Supervisors on Thursday.
Earlier this year, Falk directed the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney and the 911 Center would be held to no-cut budgets in 2007. This means the departments enter the new budget year with their 2006 budget levels and the additional monies to cover collectively bargained increases in pay and insurance to continue.
Nearly all of these public safety proposals highlighted today were requested of Falk by the heads of the three departments declared as no-cut agencies for 2007.
SHERIFF, DISTRICT ATTORNEY PROVISIONS
Falk said domestic abuse continues to be a leading cause of violence and arrests in Dane County. “And gangs are changing,” Falk said. “It makes sense to strengthen our enforcement efforts as requested by our Sheriff.”
Falk’s budget seeks to add three detectives to the Sheriff’s Department. Two would be assigned domestic abuse cases and one would be specific to gang-related crimes.
And when crime does occur, she said, it leaves victims and witnesses in need of significant assistance. From learning their rights as victims or witnesses to keeping informed of every court step, the Dane County District Attorney’s office is home to the Victim/Witnesses Services program that has served all ages involving all types of crimes.
“This specialist position was the top budget request of the District Attorney,” Falk said, noting it is a $69,100 position.
“To help our deputies patrol our busy roads more effectively, I am proposing the budget include the purchase of 21 vehicles – which includes 15 patrol cars, 10 new mobile data terminals and 13 radar or laser speed units,” Falk said, noting these purchases total $559,764 in her proposed capital expenditures.
A mobile data terminal is an in-vehicle computer system that allows the deputy to tap online resources to assist in any situation – including learning an individual’s background information.
PRISONER TRANSPORT, HUBER FACILITY
One of the proposed new Sheriff vehicles and one small bus also are proposed to help the Sheriff’s Department transport prisoners to out-of-county jails. “When the Sheriff requested the bus, he said this vehicle specifically will help cut the number of deputies needed for transporting prisoners,” she said.
Another proposal from Falk in this area is the installation of a video security camera system in the City-County Building and Public Safety Building jail areas to ensure safety for deputies and inmates. The camera system is estimated to cost nearly $600,000.
“Shipping inmates is less expensive and more cost-effective than building more beds than we are planning to build,” Falk said, noting the ongoing work on the future Huber Center will grow the entire county jail system by 300 beds. The budget proposes $4.2 million for construction of the center that will include addiction treatment programming. “The new Huber/AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Addictions) facility will make sure offenders are held accountable for their actions while getting treatment for their addictions so they do not re-offend.”
Also, Falk is proposing an additional $1 million for another contract for housing Dane County inmates in other counties where extra jail beds exist. This proposed additional support means the Sheriff would have $2 million in 2007 to negotiate inmate housing in other counties.
FIRE DISPATCH TRAINING, PUBLIC HEALTH
Falk is proposing $157,000 ($45,000 from 911 operating budget and $112,000 in capital funds) be used for the training and technology upgrades for the Priority Dispatch program for fire emergencies.
Dane County will be the first in Wisconsin to use this program which assists dispatchers in securing key information for quick determination as to what equipment is needed and what can be left behind for other crisis calls. “This will be an incredibly important tool we can provide our local leaders who are charged with responding to that local call for help,” Falk said.
The implementation of the Priority Dispatch for fires program, which couples national fire standards with computer technology, follows on the heels of other county initiatives including Advance Life Support, the 12-Lead Program and improved ambulance and paramedic services for those in accidents or facing
“In this budget, the focus turns to fires,” Falk said of the dispatch system requested by the Emergency Management Committee.
For public health, Falk is proposing $170,000 for an integrated phone and computer system improving the customer service in the still-merging County and City Health Departments, along with improved epidemiological services in 2007. These proposals also will appear in the city of Madison’s budget.
“The recent e.coli outbreak reminds all of us the importance of a strong public health department,” Falk said. Her proposals include the equipment upgrades and the use of three epidemiologists countywide.
911 RADIO SYSTEM UPGRADES, ‘INTEROPERABILITY’ GROUNDWORK
The Sheriff’s and 911 Center capital budgets are proposed to receive funds to replace the county’s entire emergency radio system. The executive budget includes $2.1 million for this work.
“This radio system change will affect every Dane County municipality along with the County operation,” Falk said of the process that will take several years to complete. “When this is complete, emergency responders will be able to talk directly to one another at emergency sites.”
The need for such an interoperable system was demonstrated nationwide after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We in Dane County experienced this problem when responding to the Stoughton tornado disaster last year.”
Under the executive proposed budget, the 911 Center would receive funds to install the infrastructure – such as radio towers and transmitters – for the interoperable system and the Sheriff’s Department would receive funds for the replacement of all radios.
Falk will release the remainder of her 2007 proposed budget on Thursday.
Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606