Fairfax City police want to purchase a new electronic summons system and dispatcher in 2013. The department also hopes to get funds for a new garage and firing range ventilation system in the near future.
The City of Fairfax Police Department presented its proposed Capital Improvement Projects before the Planning Commission on Nov. 28. Every year the commission sifts through millions of dollars in project requests to sort the must-haves from the what-ifs and make recommendations to the City Council.
Their recommendations are critical, as council members already have their work cut out for them in balancing the city's 2013 budget.
Fairfax residents will have a chance to chime in on what projects they'd like to see funded at the commission's Jan. 9 meeting.
Here's a look at what projects our officers hope for:
- Electronic Ticket/Summons:
This new system would cut out the manual data entry needed every time an officer hands out a ticket or summons. An officer would scan a driver's license and the new system would load the license and DMV information on an electronic form. The system would eliminate the errors of repetitively entering this data and would free up police department staff to focus on other duties.
Price to purchase and install? $60,000 in 2013. Another $45,000 in 2014.
- Dispatch Overhaul and Upgrade:
Right now the police department relies on overworked and stressed (as Chief Rick Rappoport describes them) dispatchers. Those people pull long hours and aren't enough to keep up with the growing number of calls made to the police station.
"We have only two dispatchers working at all times. We had two 20 years ago when the only way you can reach the police department was if you were standing at a phone in your home or had a quarter in your pocket and you went to a pay phone," Rappoport said to the city's Planning Commission in November. "Now everyone's got [a cell phone] and as soon as something happens that switchboard lights up like a Christmas tree and everyone expects their call to be answered."
Rappoport wants most of all to repair and upgrade the dispatch consoles that are used "all day, every day" and are starting to show it. As far as the police department is concerned, the $6,000-$10,000 needed to maintain and possibly add a third dispatch console is a must-have.
But he'd also like to add a a new employee.
"This year, when we had the flooding on major roads in the city, I watched those two dispatchers work heroically, hour after hour and when they were done they took two days of sick leave, and I understand it," Rappoport said.
The complicated dispatch consoles can't be used by just anyone. A third dispatcher would have to be trained to operate the system.
Price to purchase, repair and possibly hire? $47,500 total in 2013, $6,000-$10,000 of that would be for the new console and repairs.
- Garage for Special (Expensive) Vehicles
The police department wants to build a garage to shelter expensive specialized vehicles from the long-term wear and tear of being parked outside, in all weather, 24/7. Police pushed back their timeline on this to allow for the completion of a vehicle garage study that will analyze the department's need and narrow down the price. They expect to finish the study in 2013 and hope to secure the funds from the city for 2014. This garage could be shared with the city's fire department.
Price to build? About $400,000 in 2014.
- New Air Systems in Firing Range
The firearms training center will soon need new air-handling and ventilation systems. The center on Pickett Road trains 66 officers, three fire marshalls and the entire Falls Church police department. New air and vent systems will allow the center to meet EPA air quality regulations. Falls Church would be expected to pay part of the cost.
Price to purchase and install? $195,000 in 2015.
Check Patch tomorrow for more big-budget project requests.