|Karen Collis and Jay Finnigan keep track of the numbers.|
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?
|Coroner Zach Lysek looks a little pale.|
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.
$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 PoliceHellertown.-
$219,150 - Two police officers.Lower Saucon. -
$164,777 - Ambulance for Dewey Fire Company (replacing 11 year old vehicle. Dewey Ambulance responded to the casino six times last year.)
$105,438 - Police officer.Northampton County. -
$37,571 - Police vehicle.
$112,076 - for Coroner equipment modernization, including portable X-ray machinesThe 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.
$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 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.