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Officials seek status of Live Scan Booking Station

Published January 28. 2010 05:00PM

Carbon County court officials want to know what is going on about an electronic fingerprinting and photo station that the county received for free in 2008.

During the monthly meeting of the county prison board Wednesday, Roberta Brewster, court administrator; Ronald Kokinda, chief of adult probation; and James Dodson, chief juvenile court officer; approached the board to ask where the project for the Live Scan Booking Station and Commonwealth Photo Imaging Network stood. Currently, the county has the system, which it received from the Pennsylvania Police Chiefs Association, but it has not been hooked up and no program has been established.

Dodson said the county Criminal Justice Advisory Board met earlier this month and approved a central booking plan that was created for the system. The group is now waiting to hear from the state in regards to the plan.

Dodson explained the reason for the plan is to use it as guidelines and to allow the judge to set fees for the equipment use.

Some of the prison board members, which consists of the Carbon County Commissioners William O'Gurek, Charles Getz and Wayne Nothstein; Warden James Youngkin; Sheriff Dwight Nothstein; District Attorney Gary Dobias, Bob Crampsie, county controller; and Randall Smith, county administrator, asked if CJAB's action in submitting the plan for the project before approval could be made by the prison board was appropriate.

Crampsie asked why the proposal was not shown to any county officials because it states that the county prison is the location for the system.

Dodson said he did not know.

Smith commented that the warden has gone on record in the past that he is not in favor of a centralized booking area in the prison but is in favor of Live Scan, which is used for fingerprints and photos.

O'Gurek asked how the board can vote on the proposal if they didn't see it.

Dodson said that the plan had been voted on by CJAB.

The board further discussed the Live Scan system and the central booking plan, bringing up numerous issues, including finances involved in the operation of the system, that still need to be resolved.

O'Gurek, who has been against the system since Dodson and then Weatherly Police Chief Gary Veasie approached the board in June 2008 regarding the equipment, then made a motion to table the matter until the county solicitor determines if CJAB is authorized to submit the plan on behalf of the county. The motion was seconded and then died after all but O'Gurek voted "no."

The board will now review the plan that was submitted and meet to discuss the matter at another time.

The Live Scan system has been the topic of controversy since the county voted to accept the piece of equipment.

Since it was accepted, the county has had to bid out a project to run fiber optics for the system, as well as install a new underground conduit from the Emergency Management Agency to the county prison, both located on the Broad Mountain in Nesquehoning, after learning that the current conduit that runs between the two facilities had sprung a leak and could potentially create a problem. BCI Communications of Monmouth, N.J., submitted the low bid of $27,778. This project was not in the initial setup cost estimates.

At a commissioners' meeting earlier this month, members of Carbon County's court system explained the benefits of the equipment, which would allow officers to have updated access to criminal information. The system is designed to take fingerprints and photos of defendants for court use.

They added that there would be a fee charged every time the system is utilized. This would help offset the costs of the equipment, and officials believe would cover both the equipment and personnel costs.

According to Live Scan operating estimates, the total expenditures for one year is $20,059.

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