The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 9, 2014

County considers ticket program

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL bhuchel@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Vermilion County Board members will vote Tuesday on a contract for a five-year project through the county’s circuit clerk’s office at the board's monthly meeting.

The five-year contract with Advanced Public Safety of Deerfield Beach, Fla., calls for the county to pay $99,570 for the programming, set up, updates and maintenance of a new program computerizing the traffic ticket process for all law enforcement in Vermilion County. The total would be paid in five installments.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the Courthouse Annex, 7 N. Vermilion St.

Circuit Clerk Denny Gardner said the contract and program is the latest step in his office's effort to go paperless. Five other counties, such as Winnebago County in northern Illinois, have similar programs.

Through the program, officers ranging from city police and county deputies to township officers, state police and even conservation officers would be able to hand out traffic tickets using the already existing computer systems in their squad cars. Some departments, such as Hoopeston police, do not have computers in their cars but would be able to take part upon getting systems installed.

Gardner, a former Vermilion County deputy, said the officers — using a pull-down menus system — could complete traffic tickets in minutes. In addition, the new programming would allow officers to hand out court dates for the traffic offender and include on the ticket other information such as details of the offense, how to plea or take the case to court.

Officers then need only find a WiFi hot spot to upload the ticket information to a cloud memory location, which Gardner's office would then download and begin to set up court files for. Gardner added some departments already have Internet connections, allowing them to upload the tickets on the spot.

"It going to be a plus for the officers and deputies," he said, adding that writing out a ticket by hand could take as much as 10 to 15 minutes in the past. Garnder noted it eliminates such problems as unreadable tickets that can occur with the old method.

Gardner said the contract with Advanced Public Safety was not bid out because the company is the only one with the patents and technology for this programming at this point. County policy usually calls for contracts of more than $30,000 to be bid out.

Gardner told county board finance committee members that 30 printers for the county sheriff’s department and city police already have been ordered. Those are being paid for through specified court fees collected by his office and should arrive by summer to begin the program, pending county board approval.

As money is available, the program can be expanded to include other paperwork now done by hand by officers, including crash reports, Gardner said.

Also at Tuesday's meeting:

+ Board members will vote on updating the county's liquor ordinance to cover multi-day events up to 15 days. Board Chairman Gary Weinard said the change, which brings it in line with state codes, is to allow for a large event scheduled this year at Kennekuk County Park.

+ The board will vote to change the county's bidding ordinance to directly reflect the Illinois County Code. Weinard said the county, with the change, will be able to contract for unique equipment and services without bidding out.

Currently, the county requires contracts to be bid out for services over $30,000 and data processing over $35,000.