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Police fix ‘critical’ equipment with salary savings

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The Rocklin police department was in a pinch. Police administration staff needed to get critical 9-1-1 center equipment fixed quickly but a tight budget required them to think outside the box. The equipment in question is two video projectors that display information on the wall above dispatchers. They see surveillance cameras mounted around the police headquarters on Rocklin Road as well as a map of the city with real-time data showing the actual location of all police and fire units. Rocklin Police Chief Mark Siemens explains how this information is critical in an emergency. “The projectors are critical in providing situational awareness for dispatchers,” Siemens said. “They allow the dispatchers to see where resources are and send the nearest unit.” The city map on the screen also assists them by helping them describe geographical data to help set perimeter locations and other police situations. The surveillance cameras displayed on the screen give the jail another set of eyes from the dispatchers. So what went wrong? “Unfortunately, both of those projectors have gone down,” RPD Capt. Ron Lawrence told city council. “Twenty-four/seven operation they’ve been operating for an excess of five years now. They are relatively expensive pieces of equipment.” Repair is not feasible and the cost to replace both projectors is about $40,000, Lawrence said. That’s not cheap in a department that has seen layoffs, vacant positions frozen and salary concessions of existing staff due to the economy. “The police department did not ask for the appropriation of new money because we know how tight the General Fund is,” Siemens said, “We believed we could get by through the use of the unspent, currently budgeted salary savings from the vacant positions.” That means that Rocklin is not losing any new positions but rather using budgeted funds coming as positions get filled. “The money is coming from salary savings from vacant positions that are in the process of being filled,” Siemens explains. “The money is not coming from a frozen position.” The city council voted Oct. 19 to allow the police department to execute their plan. Councilman Brett Storey told police administration officials the city encourages departments to be frugal. “You have salary savings within your own department, we encourage departments to make the best use of what the budget is,” Storey said. “We are not in a position to do that.” Storey used the opportunity to warn police administration officials about any future budget concerns. “I like what you’ve proposed here. I won’t be voting for any budget amendments for any more money,” Storey said.