REGISTER VIEWPOINTS: Rush to laptops does not compute

Sandusky City Commissioners Monday approved the purchase of laptop computers for use in city police cruisers. Laptop
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Sandusky City Commissioners Monday approved the purchase of laptop computers for use in city police cruisers.

Laptops had been standard issue in the cruisers until they were pulled by former police chief Kim Nuesse because of issues with the software. She questioned the value of acting independently to secure new software while the possibility of combined police and fire dispatch with Perkins Township was under consideration. Her concerns are still valid because the word is not in from the township about a dispatch merger.

However, commissioner Julie Farrar again demonstrated her inflexibility and bullying, condescending tactics by calling the purchase a “no-brainer” and saying a delay would be “asinine.”

The commission, with the exception of Dave Waddington, opted to suspend the charter’s three-reading rule and approve the purchase on an emergency basis.

What emergency?

In a letter to Perkins Township trustees dated July 8, commission president Dennis Murray Jr. reiterated the city’s interest in joining forces for dispatch. He requested an answer within 30 days — Aug. 7. Yet more than a week before that deadline, it suddenly became an “emergency” to act on the laptop purchase. Two years have passed since the laptops were removed from the cruisers and at no time within that two years was the emergency flag raised. Why now?

Acting police Chief Charlie Sams is pushing for the return of the laptops to the cruisers. He may very well be right, but as the former chief had issues with them, is it not possible the new chief may also have problems with the system, particularly if the new chief happens to be the old chief again? The actual, not the acting, head of the county’s largest police force should have input into the system that will serve the department for years to come.

Are commissioners hoping to gain the advantage as decision-makers in the possible combined dispatch? Or are they telling us — and the township — that the team concept is not something they really support? Neither the county nor the township use the Cody software being purchased.

Are commissioners hoping to impress future police chief candidates with their forward-thinking tactics? Too little, too late.

One of the grants needed to purchase the laptops will expire in September, according to Murray. Is this the emergency? Use it or lose it? There are opportunities to apply for other grants when necessary. It is misleading to equate grant money with gifts. Taxpayers are also footing the bill for grants, so it’s imperative grant money is spent wisely. Every dollar is coming from people forced to watch their pennies — now that’s an emergency.