OSWEGO – The following three resolutions of interest were passed by the County Legislature at its Nov. 10 meeting:
Resolution GC-4 out of the Government, Courts & Consumer Affairs Committee will provide the county Board of Elections with $114,299.49 in grant money through the State of New York for Technology and Cyber Security.
The grant is fully funded and requires no local matching funds.
The purpose of the grant is to provide reimbursement to Oswego County for expenditures to help achieve election security, technology, and cyber security.
According to Republican Legislative Majority Leader Terry Wilbur, “We have to have certain cybersecurity technology to protect the authenticity of the election to make sure the computers aren’t hacked by an outside company. So, it’s for software such as that. We have multiple different softwares and subscriptions for them. We pay $107,000 a year for repairs and maintenance of equipment, including those subscriptions. We can put that grant money towards that line in the budget.”
Although the voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, Wilbur noted, “You still have computers that are operating. We have to make sure that they’re secure.”
Resolution PS-2 out of the Public Safety Committee is a request from the County Sheriff’s Office for permission to accept $13,968 from the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown School District to fund one additional Special Patrol Officer’s (SPO) position.
This money will fund the position for the remainder of 2021. The current request is for one additional officer. The Sheriff’s Office will now employ a total of 13 officers to share coverage at 11 schools. The initial startup costs will cover all expenses (wages, training, uniforms, weapons, etc.) as per an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) between the Sheriff’s Office and the School District.
And lastly, Resolution PS-4, also out of the Public Safety Committee, is also a request from the Sheriff’s Department which has “identified the need to replace the master control and security system in the correctional facility.”
The resolution asks that the County Treasurer be authorized to transfer $850,000 from the Unappropriated Fund Balance to fund this request.
The informational memorandum accompanying the request states:
“The Sheriff’s Office is looking to upgrade the Correctional Facility’s access and control system. The existing security control system is outdated and needs to be upgraded to support Genetec Camera systems and be compatible with Windows 10 OS. Upgrading this system will make the Correctional Facility more secure and much safer for correction officers as well as inmates housed within the jail.”
Terry Wilbur explained some of the details pertaining to this resolution.
“So, that is just what it says it is,” Wilbur said, “master control. What that does is that pretty much runs the whole jail. All locks are computerized. It’s a 30-year-old system, and what that system does, unlocks the cells, the new system will have a punch-out, so the correctional officers have to do walk-throughs and it will rate what pods they’ve been in during those walk-throughs. It’s basically the brains, the control of the jail, locking mechanisms and security of the jail.”
Asked what sort of security system is in place at the Correctional Facility now, Wilbur responded, “The same type of system, it’s just 30-years-old. Right now it works, but it’s a Windows 7 compatibility, and we’re very low on parts for it, so, if something breaks down on it, we’re very lucky if we can find a part for it, because it’s such an old system at this point. It’s outdated, so much so that even Black Creek, the company that runs this system, there are certain parts they can’t even obtain anymore to fix things; they aren’t made anymore.”
Furthermore, Wilbur said, “You’re updating all your servers and things of that nature. It’s all electronics. So, the computers and everything else that runs it have to be updated as well.
“So, we’re really at a dead end here,” he continued, “and officer safety, of course, is very important, and we have to make sure that we’re protecting our employees when it comes to the jail. Not only that. If this system goes down everything has to be locked and unlocked manually, and that’s a considerable amount of overtime that we would have to add to the budget, because you’re talking extra staff members per shift.”