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City Council to let mayor end agreement

by Eplunus Colvin | April 20, 2022 at 3:34 a.m.
The city council passed a resolution that will allow Fire Chief Shauwn Howell to purchase a Pierce Ascendant Tower truck and one Pierce Enforcer pump truck. Howell follows along as the resolution is read aloud. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin)

A resolution authorizing the mayor to terminate the shared agency agreement with MECA and Motorola Solutions was approved unanimously Monday during the Pine Bluff City Council meeting.

The board of the Metropolitan Emergency Communication Association, commonly known as MECA, approved a recommendation in September 2020 to buy a $364,887 computer-aided dispatch and mobile computer-aided dispatch system from Motorola.

Motorola regional manager Doug Hut explained during that time the company's Flex system, which he said integrates systems for computer-aided dispatch, records management, jail management, geographic information, analytics, fire and mobile communications, and has the capability of sharing data through all system modules.

The proposal included the software for the CAD and CAD interfaces and data exchange hub, listed as the primary suites, at a discounted price of $191,243. Hardware and services included a primary and backup server and CAD data conversion listed for $86,810. The software for the mobile CAD and mobile automatic vehicle location was listed for $112,026 and was discounted to $86,834.

The mobile software included in the package would equip the Jefferson County sheriff's office, police departments in Pine Bluff, White Hall and Redfield, and the Pine Bluff Fire Department with mobile CAD capability for all the vehicles in each department.

MECA proceeded with the implementation of the services offered by Motorola.

An ordinance later passed in March 2021 for the mayor and the chief of police to enter into a shared agency agreement with MECA and Motorola to purchase the Flex Management System software for the Pine Bluff Police Department.

Earlier this year Veronica Young, chief district court clerk, informed the Public Safety committee that Motorola still did not have a court module which she called "disheartening."

Fire Chief Shauwn Howell had noted the Motorola system was currently in use, but officials have to use third-party software to run reports.

According to the resolution the key components of the RMS module, Command Central Vault and Judicial Sharing are not available to judicial personnel as set forth in the shared agreement.

Motorola also concluded it would be a security risk to allow the court's current software vendor, ADSI, to upload court data to its database.

Young said in a previous meeting that she had with Motorola, officials were informed that the only way to connect to the police department would be through email, which, in her opinion, was "unacceptable."

"We as the court have to be able to do our job," Young said, adding that they, too, are still using ADSI.

Young said ADSI, which is a communications system, was introduced to the county to get all departments on the same system, which is now split between departments.

The resolution states the city of Pine Bluff would incur considerable expenses for ADSI to create a court interface to enable the courts and various city departments to access information from the Motorola database.

"Due to the inability of Motorola Solutions Inc. to perform material aspects of the shared agreement, the city believes that it is in the best interests of the city of Pine Bluff to permit the mayor and chief of police to terminate the agreement," according to the resolution.

According to Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington, the city never canceled services with ADSI and never activated services with Motorola. Washington said she doesn't think the city will incur a cost to get out of the contract but said city attorney Althea Hadden-Scott was looking into it as the city prepares to go into negotiations.

City council member Ivan Whitfield reiterated his stance on the original agreement, stating he asked the mayor and the council to not go into a business agreement with the company,

"Motorola was not equipped to handle software," said Whitfield. "I do believe that this council should be in a rush to get out of the contract with Motorola because Motorola is hardware, not software and they were just going to use us for a starting ground."

In other city business, a resolution authorizing the placement of a commemorative street topper along a portion of Walnut Street in honor of the Wilkes family was approved. An application for naming a street, topper, parks and city facilities was filed by Lazenie Collins seeking to honor the Wilkes.

According to the resolution, after consultation with the Street Department and due consideration of the application criteria, the Traffic and Aviation Committee recommended that a street topper be placed on the street signs along Walnut Street.

A resolution amending the city and rescue grant budget for the purpose of claiming police and fire salaries and employer payroll contributions and declaring an emergency was approved. The city of Pine Bluff was awarded fiscal relief funds from the American Rescue Plan in response to the impact of covid-19 of $10 million.

The Final Rule regarding the use of the ARPA funds permits cities and towns to utilize lost revenue for government services up to a standard allowance of $10 million or the total amount of a city's grant.

The grant total will claim police and fire salary and employer payroll contributions expenses from Jan. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2022.

A resolution authorizing the issuance of a purchase order for the acquisition of needed trucks and equipment for the fire and emergency services department was approved by the city council.

The Fire and Emergency Services Department is authorized to acquire one Pierce Ascendant Tower truck in the sum of $1,669,413 and one Pierce Enforcer pump truck in the sum of $798,522.

  photo  Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington was authorized by the vote of the city council to terminate the shared agency agreement with MECA and Motorola Solutions. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin)

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