Public Safety Committee
October 5, 2006 3:00 p.m.
Scott Heyman Conference Room

Present:     L. McBean-Clairborne, M. Robertson, M. Koplinka-Loehr (arrived at 3:12 p.m.); M. Hattery (arrived at 3:13 p.m.)

Excused:   R. Booth

Staff:         J. Hughes, Assigned Counsel Program; D. Wolf, Department of Probation and Community Justice; P. Meskill, Sheriff; G. Wilkinson, District Attorney; S. Cook, County Attorney; P. Younger, County Administration; L. Shurtleff, Department of Emergency Response

Guests:      B. Robison, Candidate for Sheriff; N. Rosen, Offender Aid and Restoration


Called to Order     


Mrs. McBean-Clairborne called the meeting to order at 3:12 p.m.


Changes to the Agenda


                The following items were added to the agenda:


                RESOLUTION:  Appropriation from Contingent Fund – Offender Aid and Restoration

                Budget Adjustment – Sheriff


Public Comment


            Mr. Robison introduced himself and stated he is a candidate for the office of Sheriff.


Criminal Justice/Alternatives-to-Incarceration


            Mrs. McBean-Clairborne reported Susan Cook, Chair of the Criminal Justice Advisory/Alternatives to Incarceration Board, presented a report to the full Legislature on the Advisory Board’s progress to date and asked if there were any follow-up questions to that presentation. 


            Ms. Younger, Deputy County Administrator, said facilitation team has been pulled together and has representatives of all of the facets of the justice system, including the Sheriff, District Attorney, Probation, DSS, OAR, CARS (Cayuga Addiction Recovery Service), and others.  They are attempting to take the list of actions and recommendations that appeared in the progress report and put it into a framework where they can make determinations about what and why decisions/conclusions were made and how well those decisions worked.  In the upcoming department head meeting there will be a rollout of this framework, along with discussion of the model that is being used.  She said it is called an industry standard model referred to as the ADDIE (Assessment, Design and Development, Implementation and Evaluation). 


            Ms. Younger said a lot of what has to be done is to refine the action steps into real strategic objectives.  There will be a series of meetings; the facilitation team will divide into separate workgroups and these workgroups will be assigned to flush out strategic objectives into real action steps that can be implemented, measured, and evaluated.  


            Mrs. McBean-Clairborne encouraged members to continue reading the report and to stay informed on this.  Ms. Younger will be provided with a copy of Legislator Proto’s resolution that was referred to the Public Safety Committee.



            It was MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Ms. Robertson, and unanimously adopted   by voice vote by members present, to approve the following resolution and submit to the full Legislature:


            WHEREAS, New York State has enacted laws to promote more efficient jail population and prison population management and the development of Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) projects, and has appropriated funds for the establishment and operation of said ATI projects pursuant to Chapter 50 of the Laws of 2006, and

            WHEREAS, the Criminal Justice Advisory/Alternatives to Incarceration Board of Tompkins County, pursuant to New York State Executive Law, has for many years participated in this contract through its annual Service Plan, and

            WHEREAS, the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, in conjunction with the Office of the State Comptroller, has developed a contract reflecting a five-year term rather than an annual contract, reflecting the annual sum of $26,800, a total of $134,000, requiring no matching local share, now therefore be it

            RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Public Safety Committee, That the County Administrator or his designee is authorized to sign a five-year contract on behalf of the County’s Criminal Justice Advisory/Alternatives to Incarceration Board with the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives for the period of January 1, 2006, through December 31, 2010, for use in establishing or continuing appropriate ATI programs and projects.


* * * * * * * * * *


OAR – Bail Fund


            Mr. Koplinka-Loehr stated it was originally thought that this resolution would come before the Legislature during the 2007 budget process; however, it was felt that by injecting this money into the OAR budget that it could have an immediate impact on lowering Jail boardout costs. 


            Ms. Rosen, Interim Executive Director, stated there is presently a balance of $2,000 in the Bail Fund which means they will have to be prioritizing bails and skipping over some individuals who are eligible, for lack of available money. She said because their staff is so busy conducting interviews and doing the necessary investigations and paperwork that there is time lost during which bails could be made.  She said with additional funding for staff-time, thousands of dollars could be saved for the County.


Mrs. McBean-Clairborne asked how many bails are currently out and at what levels.  Ms. Rosen said there was an initial balance in the Bail Fund of approximately $20,000.  There were very few forfeitures; approximately 34 bails have been made.  The maximum bail is $2,500; however, when monies are low they tend to do smaller bails.  They are now able to provide only $500 bails.  They are now able to They also get a co-pay whenever possible and there is a three percent charge for bails at the end of the process.


Mr. Koplinka-Loehr asked how many more bails would an additional $10,000 in the Bail Fund allow OAR to do.  Ms. Rosen said it would be very helpful, particularly if the staffing piece could also get more support.  The Bail Fund Coordinators is an 0.8 FTE; OAR has no full-time employees.  She will prepare a breakdown of this information.


Mr. Hattery stated that as a new Legislator he would like more information about OAR and the Agency’s operations.  He asked specifically, what the purpose is of the County funding a program such as OAR.  Ms. Rosen stated while the program reduces the number of jail days individuals spend in the County Jail, it also addresses a poverty issue.  That is, some individuals have the ability to pay the required amount to post bail.  However, there are some individuals who have been charged with the same crime but do not have the financial means; therefore, the OAR Bail Fund program brings equality to the process.   Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said the Bail Fund also reduces the need to of board prisoners to other jails, thereby reducing the cost to taxpayers.


                Mr. Hattery requested historical information on the Bail Fund balance.




            It was MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Ms. Robertson, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the following resolution and submit to the full Legislature:


WHEREAS, Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), through its Bail Fund program, makes bail accessible for low-income individuals when available funds are the only barrier to release from the Tompkins County Jail pending trial, and

WHEREAS, bail amounts have risen significantly over the years such that OAR is able to help fewer people with the same amount of funding, and

WHEREAS, at the beginning of 2006, OAR lowered the bail amounts they would consider securing bail in amounts from $2,500 to $1,500 or less, simply because there was not enough money to go around and the agency decided to allocate smaller amounts to more people rather than larger amounts to fewer people, and

WHEREAS, in the first eight months of 2006 there were ten inmates who met the agency criteria for bail, with a mix of $500 to $1,500 bails (average about $1,000), but these inmates remained incarcerated because the bail fund was depleted and OAR did not have the money to lend them, and

 WHEREAS, an additional $10,000 in the bail fund would result in the following:

·       Fewer jail days for the County to pay (Note:  the Tompkins County Public Safety Facility costs about $100 per day, and a board-out at a neighboring jail costs about $105 per day; this would quickly add up to more than $10,000 saved);

·       Fewer people losing their jobs and health insurance due to absence from work and then needing to go on public assistance following jail time;

·       Greater equity between people with the means of paying bail and those who do not have sufficient income to post bail;

·       Reduced family trauma from having a family member jailed. Many of the people who are arrested and assigned bail have their cases dismissed; others are sentenced to non-jail alternatives. Having to wait for their court date in jail, rather than at home while maintaining their family life, harms their children and other relationships. Family trauma also results in clients losing their homes, requiring the County to pay for lodging at the shelter or other housing alternatives, and

WHEREAS, OAR achieves a ninety percent return rate on its bails posted, with only very few forfeitures in the last six years, so that the $10,000 would be replenished and reallocated, now therefore be it

            RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Public Safety and the Budget and Capital Committees, That the Director of Finance be authorized to make the following budget appropriation:

            FROM:  A1990.54400                        Contingent Fund                      $10,000

            TO:      A6316.54400             Program Expense                    $10,000


* * * * * * * * * *



            The Committee reviewed July and August Jail statistics. 


            Mr. Hattery noted that to date there has been over $400,000 in boardout expenses and asked why the cost of this expense is not reflected in the Sheriff’s budget.  Sheriff Meskill said this would be a decision of the County Administrator and the Legislature.  He also noted last year was the first full year of operating without variances and the majority of expenses were absorbed by the Department. 


            Budget Adjustment


            The following budget adjustment was unanimously approved by the Committee:


            REVENUE:                 3113.42270     Other Miscellaneous Revenues                       $9,085

            APPROPRIATION:    3113.52231     Vehicles                                              $9,085

Explanation:  Payment for damage to patrol car; budget adjustment for repair expense from the proper account.

* * * * * * * *


Department of Emergency Response


            Emergency Medical Dispatch


            Mr. Shurtleff updated the Committee on the emergency medical dispatch system and said the Department is in the process of implementation in accordance with State and Federal standards.  Dispatch staff has completed training and they are working with various users to establish operation protocols.   He will be inviting the Public Safety Committee for a tour to see the new system that was made possible by grant funds.  Bangs Ambulance and the City of Ithaca are working on issues related to emergency medical dispatch as well.


            Dispatch Operations


He reported on dispatch operations and said a number of training issues that need to be addressed with staff have been identified and they are working on that front.  Mr. Shurtleff said he has been working on this with Anita Fitzpatrick, Personnel Commissioner, and she has been very helpful    He also noted there has been a limited number of complaints recently.   Ms. Rosen, Interim Director of OAR and previous Director of Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service, complimented Dispatch on quality service to callas at risk of suicide.


Communications System Update


Mr. Shurtleff reported they are currently looking at operational components of the system and are working with engineering staff from Motorola and SSI.  He has asked the retired Coordinator from Clinton County, which is a County similar in size to Tompkins County, to assist with this.  Clinton County has a similar system and they were one of the first in the State to go through this process.  Mr. Shurtleff updated the Committee on the wireless system and stated they are addressing linked networks at the present time.  He noted that progress is being made and this is moving forward.


Mr. Shurtleff said they are well underway with the construction piece and during the last two weeks towers have been constructed in the Towns of Caroline, Enfield, and Danby.  Construction was started at Ithaca College but came to a halt when there was a problem with one of the pieces that was being put up.  Mr. Shurtleff said engineers are coming in to evaluate the situation.   The last free standing tower will be put up in the Town of Danby the week of October 17th.  Overall construction is still on track to be completed by year-end.



Subscriber Equipment


            Mr. Shurtleff spoke of funding and stated several members are trying to get an earmark in next year’s budgets; and he is also exploring several other sources of funding.  He said he is  hopeful; however, funding has not been secured as of this date.  He stated they are still working cooperatively with Cornell University and is optimistic about the outcome.


Power Outage- Health Department


            Mr. Shurtleff reported on the power outage the Health Department is currently experiencing.  It was unclear at the time of this meeting how long the Department would be without power; however, County departments are working cooperatively during this outage.  He said they implemented an emergency plan and things have been running smoothly; portions of the Health Department have relocated to other County departments and he is pleased to see the excess capacity at the 911 Center is being used in this manner.




Approval of Minutes of August 3 and September 5, 2006


            It was MOVED by Ms. Robertson, seconded by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the minutes of the August 3 and September 5, 2006 meetings as corrected.  MINUTES APPROVED.




            It was MOVED by Ms. Robertson, seconded by Mr. Hattery, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the appointment of Patricia Carey to the Criminal Justice Advisory/Alternatives to Incarceration Board as a DSS representative for a term expiring December31, 2007.  MOTION CARRIED.


Liaison Reports




            Mr. Koplinka-Loehr reported the finalists for the position of OAR Director are being interviewed today and tomorrow.


Family Court Advisory Council


            Ms. Robertson reported the out-of-school suspension project is up and running in the BOCES Community School. They are very open to community agencies coming in to work with kids in areas such as dispute resolution and developing self-esteem.  She will continue to keep the Committee updated on this program.




            The meeting adjourned at 4:27 p.m.


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