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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NorCo Gaming Board To Fund Regional Crime Center

Karen Collis and Jay Finnigan keep track of the numbers.
It's been a long wait for Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin. Since it was first established in 2012, Martin has had to ask Lehigh County Commissioners, year after year, to fund a Regional Intelligence and Investigative Center (RIIC), which is also called a Regional Crime Center. Though he made its resources available to police departments in Northampton County, Lehigh County had to pick up the tab.

Good things come to those who wait. At their April 25 meeting, Northampton County's nine-person Gaming Board voted unanimously to dish out $407,000 out of an expected $1.7 million in slots revenue this year so that Northampton County police departments can finally integrate with their counterparts in Lehigh.

The main obstacle in Northampton County was then Sheriff Randy Miller, who drafted a memo objecting to the cost and suggesting he could establish a system county-wide Ironically, the driving force for the RIIC is his successor, David Dalrymple. Before replacing Miller, Dalrymple ran the Intelligence Section of the New Jersey State Police, and called the RIIC  "a step beyond" what he saw in New Jersey. He spearheaded the drive for participation in the RIIC, with the unanimous backing of the Northampton County Chiefs of Police and the Northampton County District Attorney's Office. .

Earlier this year, Northampton County DA John Morganelli announced that Northampton County had signed on to a digital forensics lab established at DeSales University by Lehigh County DA Jim Martin in 2011. At that time, Morganelli expressed his desire to join the Regional Crime Center, using gaming funds.

What is the RIIC?

Located in Allentown, the RIIC offers investigative case support, strategic analysis and situational awareness to county law enforcement. In addition, it provides expert assistance from crime analysts who can review millions of pieces of data from numerous incident reports, investigatory files and prison records to make connections that solve crime. It even provides a daily blog for police officers, not about politics, but recent criminal activity

Coroner Zach Lysek looks a little pale. 
Chairman Jay Finnigan told fellow members that he, Joe Kelly and Executive Director Karen Collis visited the RIIC. He spoke of armed robbers using bicycles they would stash in SUVs to hit various convenience stores in both counties. Information developed by the RIIC led to their apprehension.

Joe Kelly said what he likes about the Regional Crime Center is that it provides police officers with access to data."Information is power," he said. Kelly was really impressed at the information that can be gleaned from county jails, calling it a "treasure trove.".He added that the RIIC "does make us safer." But he cautioned that though he will support the funding for integration, annual supporting costs should come from the County.

Sheriff Dalrymple told the Board that the County's police departments currently use a "Cobra" system, which he called a "passive" system that simply points you in the right direction. In contrast, the RIIC is active, and provides instant access to reports from Northampton County's 30 police departments, Lehigh County's 17 police departments, state and federal agencies, and data from both county jails.

Total of $2.2 Million in Grants Sought 

The Regional Crime Center was one of just $2.2 million in grant applications from slots revenue. That is projected at just $1.7 million this year. By law, the first round of grants must go to Bethlehem, Northampton County and the five municipalities surrounding Bethlehem. These are Hanover Township, Bethlehem Township, Lower Saucon Township and Freemansburg and Hellertown. To be successful, they must show they've been impacted by gambling. If any money is left over, it can be awarded to other municipalities.

Other grant applications approved this year are as follows.

Bethlehem Tp.
$6,813 - Tasers.

$73,854 - Public safety software. 
$42,400 - Two License Plate Recognition Systems. 
$104,723 - Two police vehicles. 
Freemansburg. -
$110,000 - Full Time Police Officer.
Hanover Tp.
$50,633 - Ford Police Interceptor operated by Colonial Regional Police
$219,150 - Two police officers.

$164,777 - Ambulance for Dewey Fire Company (replacing 11 year old vehicle. Dewey Ambulance responded to the casino six times last year.)
Lower Saucon. -
$105,438 - Police officer.

$37,571 - Police vehicle.
Northampton County. -
$112,076 - for Coroner equipment modernization, including portable X-ray machines

$10,000 - Interpreter Fees. Court Administrator Jill Smith explained that the County does have an in-house Spanish interpreter, but paid $38,720 last year for interpreters in other languages. She indicated there's been a rise in the need for Asian language and Indian language interpreters, largely as a result of the casino.

$100,442 - Gambling Addiction Treatment and Support. Drug and Alcohol Administrator Tiffany Rossanese [reviously  explained that her department did 967 gambling screenings last year, and 10% of those were identified as being at risk, which is twice the national average and five times what Northampton County was before the casino. The funding provided to the County goes to education at the schools and faith-based institutions, and provides transitional housing to people who have lost their homes as a result of gambling.
The Gaming Board expects to have about $200,000 left to distribute, and will be inviting Northampton County's remaining municipalities to submit grant applications of up to $25,000, which will be awarded later in the year.

The nine-person Board includes Joe Kelly (Bethlehem), Tom Nolan (Bethlehem Tp), Gerald Yob (Freemansburg), Jay Finnigan (Hanover), Dave Heintzelman (Hellertown), Dave Willard (Lower Saucon), Tony Pristash (Northampton), John Dally (Pen Argyl) and James Pennington (Lower Nazareth). Karen Collis is the Executive Director.


Anonymous said...

Miller, what the hell happened to you? You use to be a good cop.................

Anonymous said...

Miller took his marching orders from the boss don't throw him under the bus. Will the gaming board fund this annually or will property taxpayers have to pick up the check next year? Gotta love fiscally irresponsible Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Is Bethlehem Twp becoming a police state? I guess when they invite criminals into the township for their prostitution stings, they get to play army with all the toys.

Anonymous said...

Bernie Bernie,
How many local political parasites and there backers names are on this "RIIC" electronic gadgetry tool implimentation and are there gangs names even in print on the data spreadsheets as fictitious facts put to print never to be implemented yet said funds will be allocated?
Republican redd

Anonymous said...

How about the lunches that Chief Pantacost treats certain employee's on a regular basis? Is that coming out of taxpayer property tax dollars?

Anonymous said...

It should show what deputy dog Miller was against RIIC and his successor, a TRUE PROFZERSSIONAL endorsed it.

That's why Miller is a perfect fit as Deputy Dog Commish in Nazareth and wont go anywhere and we have NOW a TRUE PROFESSIONAL in the RIIC.

Its good that Brown put the unprofessional trash out.

Anonymous said...

All the money should go to human service as it was originally planned. Not the regional grab bag of goodies that this "Board" gives each other. Very Sad!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, was there any applications denied or did everyone get what they asked for?

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head. Miller was always about himself and his over inflated ego. His ingenious computer reporting system costs the County a huge sum each year now that the initial grant is no longer paying for it. A polished turd is still a turd.
Morganelli should summon the grand jury to investigate Miller for his cover up of employee stealing by falsifying time sheets. Ask the Chief Deputy about this and his response would be no comment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Several applications were denied.