County approves local revenue sharing grant requests

MANISTEE COUNTY — The Manistee County Board of Commissioners approved the submission of three public safety grant requests to the Local Revenue Sharing Board for its 2018 Cycle II grant awards.

Prior to approval, the applications were reviewed by commissioners at their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening.

The county’s three grant requests, which total $47,799.70, are as follows:

• State Sheriff”s, Chief’s Narcotic Enforcement Team (SSCENT): Narcotics team equipment ($2,160)

This application requests funding for the purchase of the yearly maintenance cost of one of two GPS location trackers ($600 a year) that are used in public safety investigations. These trackers are utilized whenever the team is in Manistee County on a narcotics related investigation. The trackers are critical to maintaining officer safety in the rural areas of Manistee County. SSCENT-owned GPS trackers are made available to Manistee County law enforcement upon request for use in their investigations.

The next piece of equipment that SSCENT would utilize grant funds for would be a Verizon WIFI Jet Pack cellular hot spot. The initial cost of the Jet Pack is $99 and $1,560 for a full year of service. The Jet Pack would be utilized by detectives in Manistee County for transmitting and receiving critical data while in the field. SSCENT vehicles are not equipped with installed mobile data computers, so sending and receiving critical court documents is at times impossible with current devices. Stand alone laptop software often requires updates that cannot be obtained from available land based internet options.

• Manistee County Sheriff’s Office: Body cameras for road patrol ($31,144.70)

This application requests funds to replace the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office’s current body camera system, which is failing. The current body cameras are expensive and not timely to repair. The new body cameras and system will replace the existing cameras and system, with a one-year warranty. The new system will have redacting software, allowing administration to download and redact the video, allowing for proper recording of video per FOIA requests. The software system would also allow other users (Prosecutor’s Office, Defense Attorneys, Courts, etc.) to view the videos in a timely manner.

• Manistee County Sheriff’s Office: Courthouse Fingerprint Machine ($14,495)

This application requests funding to place a fingerprint machine in the Manistee County Government Center, located at 415 Third St. in Manistee. The reasoning for placing a fingerprint machine at the Government Center is threefold. It will serve as a measure to keep a secure jail; it will save time as courts are currently sending numerous subjects to the Manistee County Jail to get fingerprinted during busy daytime hours, putting an additional burden on jail staff; and it will help decrease health risks to the jail’s inmate population as civilians sometimes enter into the jail with colds, flu and other sicknesses.

Commissioner Margaret Batzer asked Manistee County Sheriff John O’Hagan, who was in attendance on Tuesday, to elaborate on the request for body cameras, namely the equipment’s lifespan.

“We expect five to seven years (for the new equipment),” O’Hagan said. “This is actually our first go-around with the (current) body cams, and they’re only about four and a half years old. But this last year they have been breaking left and right. We’ve been sending them in to get fixed and it’s costing us $200 to $300 every time we send them in.”

Batzer pointed out that each unit is quite expensive.

“Were you able to check with different companies to find out equipment costs from different vendors,” she asked.

“We did,” O’Hagan said. “We entertained three different brands and decided that this system would work best for our needs.”

Under the gaming compact and amendment between the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the State of Michigan, the Local Revenue Sharing Board receives 2 percent of electronic gaming profits from the Little River Casino Resort.

Each cycle (there are two per year), the revenue sharing board is required to distribute at least 12.5 percent of that amount through public safety grants to various governmental bodies in the county.

At its Cycle II awards meeting, held each December, the board meets its payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) obligations, which go to local government entities as compensation for the taxes they would receive if the Little River Casino Resort were not a Class III gaming facility.

The three-member revenue sharing board is made up of representatives from Manistee County (Brook Shafer), the City of Manistee (Roger Zielinski) and Manistee Township (Dennis Bjorkquist). In order to be approved, grant requests must receive a unanimous 3-0 vote from the board.

The Local Revenue Sharing Board is scheduled to meet on Oct. 8 to hear verbal presentations from grant applicants, while grants are slated to be distributed at its Cycle II awards meeting on Dec. 10. Both meetings are open to the public, each starting at 5 p.m. at the Manistee Township Hall, located at 410 Holden St. in Manistee.

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