MCSD getting body cams

Sheriff Neal Rohlfing brought a proposal to the Monroe County Board meeting on Monday to purchase 14 body cameras for deputies. 

The cameras are Motorola V300 models with magnetic chest mounts that attach to body armor. The entire package will include cameras, base stations and in-car equipment, as well as necessary software. They will cost $49,130 and be obtained from Watchguard Video of Allen, Texas.  

Rohlfing told commissioners the county is eligible for a state grant of $13,425 if the entire package needed to equip all deputies is purchased at one time.

The remaining approximately $36,000 in costs were approved from contingency funding.

He told commissioners the sheriff’s department had not planned the purchase in this year’s budget because the rapidly changing state laws had not been foreseen or implemented when the county’s budget was being assembled.

He noted that body cameras will be required for all patrol police and deputies in Illinois by January 2025, but that as early as July 2021, citizens can make anonymous charges of violations by law enforcement personnel. 

Body cameras are designed to provide factual records of interactions between authorities and citizens.

Rohlfing said he felt Monroe County would be more likely to receive grant funds for these cameras in a timely manner by making the necessary purchase as early as possible. He also thought prices might increase as demands grow.  

Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean opined that the county’s liability insurance costs would soon factor in whether or not law enforcement officers were equipped with body cameras.

Rohlfing also discussed the ongoing consideration of expanding the Monroe County Jail, noting that the facility was built in 1984 and maintenance issues are continuing to grow. For example, the manufacturer of the lock mechanisms at the current jail went out of business 15 years ago. 

He also said it is uncertain what impacts the many changes in criminal laws from Springfield will have on numbers of crimes.  

“We should start to get a better idea by the end of this year,” he said. 

He said that Monroe County is becoming a more attractive target for criminals from Missouri, citing an early Monday morning vehicle theft with vehicle break-ins in Columbia as examples.

In other Monroe County Sheriff’s Department business, the commissioners approved work to restore the jail’s aging HVAC system. It was noted the system has not been working correctly for some time.  Changes to be incorporated should also reduce electricity usage.

The approved low bid of $76,989 came from Jarrell Mechanical, of St. Louis.

The Friends of the Bison Committee in support of the bison statue on the northwest corner of the courthouse grounds joined Waterloo artist Barb Schrieber to present her watercolor painting of the bison and its site to the county. This painting will hang in the courthouse with a display of items from a growing collection of artifacts representing Monroe County’s 200 year-plus history. Pictured, from left, are Jim Hill, Norma Reheis, Joann Fricke, Commissioner Dennis Knoblach, Schreiber, Commissioner Vicki Koerber, Commissioner George Green and Paul Feldker.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger came to discus several issues.  But before he addressed agenda items, residents Jordan Riley, Vicki Woods and Jim Hearren of Country Club Lane asked if anything could be done about the deteriorating stretch of that road around the golf course.  

The residents said they had sought help from Road District 2 but had been told that was not possible at this time.  In addition to deteriorating conditions and damage from heavy construction traffic, all three noted the growing population of the area was resulting in more traffic – including more young drivers – with potential for serious accidents, especially on sharp curves.

The commissioners noted the affected residences are within the City of Waterloo, which collects taxes from the owners but has not assisted with maintaining the road.  The commissioners recommended that the concerned residents contact the Waterloo mayor and their alderman and explore a cooperative effort between the city and county to improve the road. 

They noted both governments could apply for grants to help pay for the work and possibly work together.

Commissioners finalized the Hanover Road Phase II Resurfacing project.  This work will include resurfacing about 2.2 miles of Hanover Road from the Old Railroad Bridge west to just west of D Road with hot mix asphalt. The overall construction cost of $1,100,000 will include $400,000 in federal grant money and $390,000 from REBUILD Illinois funds.

The board approved a grant of two permanent electric easements on county property adjacent to Levee Road to the Monroe County Electric Co-op. The easements were deemed beneficial to the public.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of a 2018 Caterpillar 430F2 backhoe/loader from Fabick Cat of Fenton, Mo., for $99,500.  The county is getting a trade-in of $15,000 for its 2011 Case 580 Super N for a resulting net cost of $84,500.

Two Road District appointments were also approved. Walter Gregson Jr. of Red Bud was appointed commissioner for Road District 1 starting May 17.  Kurt Kelly of Waterloo was appointed as Road District  9 Clerk, also as of May 17.

Eight reappointments were approved unanimously by the commissioners: Mark Brandt and Matthew Ty Lindhorst, both of Waterloo, to the Waterloo Community Fire Protection District; Glenn F. Stumpf and Michael Conrad, both of Columbia, to the Columbia Fire Protection District; Randy Scheibe of Valmeyer as a Valmeyer Fire Protection District trustee; Joe Gregson of Hecker to the Hecker Fire Protection District; Brian Coats of Maeystown to the Maeystown Fire Protection District and James Seboldt of Fults to the Fountain Water District.

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Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.
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