Middletown City Council unanimously approved two pieces of legislation that will provide a more hygienic environment for the city’s police force and technology to improve crime solving, officials said.
City Council approved last week an emergency resolution that authorized a contract not to exceed $430,000 with Lutz Construction Management Co., the lowest of the four bidders for the locker room project, and $74,100 for the first year of using Flock Safety Cameras.
The lockers were built in 1975 when the City Building was constructed and they are not large enough for the additional equipment used by today’s police officers, said Maj. Eric Crank.
He said officers must store some of their belongings under the wooden benches or above the lockers due to the inadequate space in the combination lockers that resemble those used in high schools.
The size of the lockers will double and be large enough for all police equipment and offer better ventilation for the bullet-proof vests and boots that sometimes get wet, he said.
Paul Lolli, the fire chief and acting city manager, said the money for the locker room renovations will come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The locker room remodel will allow for social distancing and provide an overall more hygienic environment for the city’s police force, according to city documents.
Here are the other three bids: Wise Construction Co., Dayton, $444,000; Leo J. Brielmaier Co., Cincinnati, $477,900; and K&T Construction and Supply Inc., Franklin, $494,800.
Crank, a 27-year veteran on the force, said some of the walls will be knocked down to make room for the more than 90 lockers and several showers.
During a shift change, Crank described the crammed locker area as working on a submarine.
“You’re always bumping into each other,” he said. “It’s time for these to be replaced.”
The police department also is receiving 26 Flock Cameras License Plate Readers for intersections throughout the city.
Flock Safety built the first public safety operation system that helps neighborhoods, businesses and law enforcement in cities work together to reduce crime, according to Middletown Police Chief David Birk.
He said the cameras capture objective evidence and utilize machine learning to create and deliver unbiased investigative leads to law enforcement. Flock Safety is a cloud-based software system that has been shown to reduce crime in some areas up to 70%, according to city documents.
Birk said a large percentage of crimes occur with vehicle involvement, so obtaining a vehicle license plate is often the best evidence to assist in solving the crime. He said the cameras give officers the first investigative lead to help alerts when vehicles involved in criminal activity pass through a Flock Camera.
On many serious violent crimes, a vehicle description is given, but no license plate. This information can be put into the Flock Safety System and allows the officer to pull up all vehicles making the description that went through a camera.
Birk said similar cameras are used in Franklin, Springboro, Dayton, Vandalia, and Troy and many Butler County police departments are looking at purchasing the cameras.
The total cost for the first year with an installation fee will be $74,100, according to the city. The funds for the first years will be paid as follows: $49,100 from the general fund and $25,000 from the computer replacement fund.
The police department was awarded a $33,000 grant to purchase 12 Flock license plate reader cameras for one year. Once the funds are received, the city will be reimbursed for this expense through an appropriation transfer to be approved by council.
Flock Safety Cameras have a yearly $2,500 fee for each camera and with 26 cameras covering entry and exit roadways throughout Middletown the annual fee would be $65,000.