Commission to Advance #NG911 Holds First Meeting

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative that will help Maryland prepare for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 system that our residents expect and deserve, held its first meeting today in Annapolis.

Maryland residents demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.

The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of NG9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the existing efforts of the Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB), with a particular emphasis on addressing areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of NG9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

The Commission wasted no time getting to work. Senator Cheryl Kagan, Senate sponsor of the MACo legislation to establish the Commission, was elected Chair. Steve Souder, former Director of the Department of Public Safety Communications in Fairfax, Virginia, was elected Vice Chair.

In order to meet the initial reporting deadline of December 1, 2018, the Commission established four subcommittees – Funding, Staffing, Technology & Cybersecurity, & Oversight and Accountability. Each subcommittee will work to draft preliminary recommendations. Once the subcommittees have completed their work, they will present their recommendations to the full Commission.

Because county governments are at the heart of 9-1-1 service delivery, MACo prepared and submitted to the Commission a Next Generation 9-1-1 White Paper. MACo hopes to continue to serve as a resource for additional information from county governments throughout the Commission’s deliberations.

MACo’s Legislative Committee voted at their September 12, 2018 meeting to adopt the Association’s four priorities for the 2019 Session. Updating state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system, to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the transition to NG9-1-1, will again be a top priority for county governments.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

MACo NG9-1-1 White Paper

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Commission to Advance #NG9-1-1 Set to Convene

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Hogan Signs MACo’s 9-1-1 Initiative Bill

Questions About #NG9-1-1? MACo Has You Covered

Questions about NG9-1-1 and what it means for county governments? The MACo NG9-1-1 White Paper has you covered.

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative that will help Maryland prepare for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 system that our residents expect and deserve, held its first meeting, September 20, 2018, in the Joint Hearing Room in Annapolis.

In its 2018 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 634/SB 285, a MACo Legislative Initiative to establish Commission to Advance NG9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Governor signed the bill into law on April 24, 2018.

The Commission’s December report must cover seven subjects, the first of which, is the needs, both capital and operating, to bring efficient and effective NG9-1-1 technology and service across Maryland, and estimated costs required to effect this priority outcome.

Because county governments are at the heart of 9-1-1 service delivery, MACo prepared and submitted to the Commission a Next Generation 9-1-1 White Paper. MACo hopes to continue to serve as a resource for additional information from county governments throughout the Commission’s deliberations.

This report is intended as an informational document on Maryland’s 9-1-1 structure and anticipated needs as the State moves to NG9-1-1 service. MACo has gathered this information about Maryland’s county public safety answering points from county governments and other sources. MACo submits this collection of data toward the Commission’s exploration of NG9-1-1 and hopes that these are helpful ingredients for the Commission’s future findings.

Several years ago, Ross Coates, the Manager of Harford County’s Emergency Services Communications Center, approached MACo and the Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers about creating a statewide group of county PSAP Directors. The Emergency Communications Committee of the Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers is now a vibrant and active association that gives an opportunity for PSAP Directors to share information, lessons learned, and to provide information and support on advocacy topics in emergency communications to MACo’s Legislative Committee and Policy Team.

The Emergency Communications Committee, under the leadership of Ross Coates, has been a primary and essential resource for this report.

MACo’s Legislative Committee voted at their September 12, 2018 meeting to adopt the Association’s four priorities for the 2019 Session. Updating state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system, to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the transition to NG9-1-1, will again be a top priority for county governments.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

MACo NG9-1-1 White Paper

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Commission to Advance #NG9-1-1 Set to Convene

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Hogan Signs MACo’s 9-1-1 Initiative Bill

Better Police Recruits Through Boot Camp? Baltimore City Tests New Programs

Boot camp is just one of the ways Baltimore City is turning to innovative programs to help improve recruitment of police officers.

An article in The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh has partnered with “Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded ‘Innovation Team'” to boost recruitment for the city’s police force. One of the first issues the group has tackled is helping recruits train to pass the fitness test through boot camp classes that meet three times a week:

The fitness requirement is a “huge barrier” for many recruits, said Major Brian Hance, who heads the department’s recruitment section. In 2017, 20 percent of applicants failed the fitness test on their first try, including 55 percent of women, he said.

Rather than turn away candidates who can’t pass the fitness test, “we want to work with them,” Hance said. “There’s a lot of good people out here.”

The Sun article notes the boot camp has shown promising returns with half of the participants passing the fitness test — all of which were women. The team has also launched an online application which has generated a jump in the number of applications the department has received. These initiatives are part of broader efforts by the Mayor’s office to boost attraction and retention of police officers as the department has been beset by vacancies and overtime hours officers must work.

To learn more read:

Baltimore police fitness ‘boot camp’ among new efforts to boost recruitment (The Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore City Looking to Diversify Police Force (Conduit Street)

Senate Committee Hears Local Government Body Camera & PIA Concerns

MACo Legal & Policy Counsel Les Knapp testified before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee about the need for reforming the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) to better address the release of police body camera footage. The September 13th briefing also included testimony from representatives from the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and the ACLU of Maryland.

Addressing police body camera issues under the PIA has been a MACo legislative initiative for the last three years. For two years, the House of Delegates passed the proposed MACo legislation with near unanimous bipartisan support, only for the bill to stall in the Senate. During the 2018 Session, the Committee debated the MACo bill, SB 788, and ultimately held the bill for further discussion. That decision culminated in the briefing. The ACLU of Maryland has opposed the legislation all three years.

Knapp explained the need for greater clarity regarding body camera footage under the PIA, citing the need for: (1) transparency and accountability; (2) privacy protections; and (3) certainty for local governments. From MACo’s testimony:

Body cameras and other forms of personal surveillance video can help provide transparency and accountability for police officer and other government employee actions as well as protect both residents and the government. It is beneficial and desirable that as many local jurisdictions as possible adopt viable body camera programs. …

Unlike dashboard or stationary mounted cameras, which are limited in both use and the areas they film, there will be far more personal surveillance video generated by the use of new technology and it will show scenes never before subject to public scrutiny – including the insides of private homes and businesses. The potential for abusive use of such video, including posting on the internet or victim shaming, is extremely high. …

Finally, the time and costs for attorney review and potential redaction of body camera video are significant and a single large request could quickly run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and consume many hours of staff time. When reviewing videos, every minute of actual footage can take between 7 and 13 minutes to review by an attorney. Redaction adds additional time and costs. Long-term storage of large amounts of video also remains a challenging and costly proposal.

Additionally, without a “bright line” rule, a heavy onus is placed on record custodians to determine when and how existing exceptions to releasing information under the PIA apply. Record custodians and their governmental agencies can be held criminally or civilly liable for making a wrong decision by releasing something that should not have been released or not releasing something that should have been released.

By focusing on those videos that are truly in the public interest to ensure transparency and accountability, the time, costs, uncertainty, and liability risks for local governments can be greatly reduced.

Knapp also stressed that other states have taken more extreme positions on the privacy rights of victims and video subjects. Even the National Chapter of the ACLU has proposed model legislation that provides numerous privacy protections for crime victims and witnesses and limits who can access body camera video through public information act requests. Knapp noted that MACo developed a balanced approach to transparency and privacy by working in collaboration with public school boards, law enforcement, the press, and open government groups, including the ACLU of Maryland. Knapp addressed several of the ACLU of Maryland’s key arguments and urged the Committee to consider updating the PIA, whether it is based on the approach in SB 788, the National ACLU model legislation, or some other methodology.

MML Government Relations Manager Justin Fiore echoed support for the need for PIA reform and discussed the concerns of municipal governments and police departments. City of Gaithersburg Attorney Lynn Board explained the time, cost, and technology challenges local governments face when responding to body camera requests under the PIA. Board also stressed that without a “bright line” rule, the onus is on record custodians and local governments to make difficult decisions on what to release or not using their discretionary powers under the PIA. Board noted that local governments can be held legally liable for releasing information they were not supposed to release or not releasing information they should have released.

ACLU of Maryland Senior Staff Attorney David Rocah argued that legislation was not needed as the current PIA law covers the concerns raised in the bill. Rocah also argued that the bill would not even address the concerns raised by MACo and MML.

Useful Links

Video of PIA Body Camera Briefing

MACo Testimony on PIA Body Camera Briefing

HB 1638 / SB 788 of 2018

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of PIA Body Camera Issues

 

 

Commission to Advance #NG9-1-1 Set to Convene

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative that will help Maryland prepare for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 system that our residents expect and deserve, will hold its first meeting on Thursday, September 20, 2018, at 10 am in the Joint Hearing Room in Annapolis.

Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland bill signing ceremony. (Photo credit: Executive Office of the Governor)

Maryland residents demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.

Maryland must accelerate its move toward NG9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.

The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of NG911 implementation in coordination with the existing efforts of the Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB), with a particular emphasis on addressing areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of NG911 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

Counties encourage efforts to enhance emergency communications in Maryland. The Commission exemplifies a statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing public safety industry leadership and expertise to address complex public safety concerns.

MACo’s Legislative Committee voted at their September 12, 2018 meeting to adopt the Association’s four priorities for the 2019 Session. Updating state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system, to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the transition to NG9-1-1, will again be a top priority for county governments.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Hogan Signs MACo’s 9-1-1 Initiative Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Counties Gather Answers for the Call for Next Generation 9-1-1 Service

HB 634/SB 285 of 2018

Cecil County Sees Minor Flooding After Conowingo Opens Floodgates

An Aegis article (2018-09-13) reported that Cecil County experienced some minor flooding along its Susquehanna River shore after 14 of the dam’s 50 floodgates were opened at the Conowingo Dam to alleviate rising waters behind the dam. The Port Deposit area saw most of the flooding effects. The current water release is not associated with Hurricane Florence but both the dam’s owner, Exelon Generation, and state officials are monitoring the storm’s track carefully. At this point, Exelon does not believe Florence will have an effect on the dam or its reservoir. From the article:

“We’re in contact with all of our local communities and emergency responders,” Deena O’Brien, a spokesperson for the dam’s parent company, Exelon Generation, said Wednesday afternoon. …

Weather conditions that are “most impactful to” Conowingo Dam, which spans the Susquehanna between Cecil and Harford counties, happen in central Pennsylvania, O’Brien said.

“The hurricane is not expected to have any impact in central Pennsylvania, thank goodness, so we’re not expecting a significant event with the hurricane,” she said.

The article also discussed actions that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and state officials are taking in response to Florence’s potential threat and Exelon’s efforts to remove debris that comes down the Susquehanna. Debris that is not captured by Exelon is released into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries where it can create public safety and environmental hazards. The article noted that an unusually heavy debris release in July after record rainfall prompted both state and local government concern.

The article provided a hotline number that people can call to get information on floodgate openings: 1.877.457.2525. The hotline report is updated every eight hours.

Montgomery Search & Rescue Team Deploys to Carolinas

As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, today deployed the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services’ Urban Search and Rescue Team to provide support in the Carolinas.

According to a press release:

The team is comprised of 80 members, including those with heavy concrete structure collapse, wide-area search, and swift-water rescue capabilities. The caravan that departed this morning included tractor trailers, support vehicles, six K-9s, and six boats.

“I am very proud that Montgomery County is able to share the expert resources of the members of the Fire and Rescue Service’s MD-TF1 with other areas across the country during devastating emergency situations,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who will experience the worst from Hurricane Florence. To the members of MD-TF1, thank you for your service and stay safe.”

MD-TF1 is one of a very few specialized search and rescue units in the Country that has equipment, Hazmat Equip Push Packs (HEPP), to respond to incidents involving hazardous materials. The Hazmat pack assists the Urban Search and Rescue Teams whenever they encounter a hazardous material and contamination situations during their response.

“The men and women of MD-TF1 help the residents of Montgomery County and neighboring communities day in and day out, said Fire Chief Scott Goldstein. “Today these folks transition to traveling to the Carolina’s and helping those local communities during their time of need – a very rewarding experience.”

MD-TF1 was first deployed in 1994 after the Northridge Earthquake. That was followed by a response to the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and the September 2001 attacks to the Pentagon. They have been deployed in response to several hurricanes to include Katrina and Sandy.

Read the full press release for more information.

Hurricane Prep Gets Social

Anne Arundel County Emergency Management will Facebook LIVE to share hurricane readiness information and answer questions from public.

Social media has become a valuable way to share and receive emergency information and emergency response alerts. In Anne Arundel, County Emergency Management will be harnessing the resource offered by Facebook LIVE to share the latest weather update and answer questions in advance of Hurricane Florence’s landfall.

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Anne Arundel County’s Emergency Manager will host a Facebook LIVE broadcast on Hurricane Florence.

From Anne Arundel County:

“Information is key as we work to protect the public with a dangerous storm approaching,” said County Executive Steve Schuh. “We want to take advantage of the days we have to get everyone ready for any significant event. Current forecasts are calling for potentially significant flooding, which could be coupled with power outages and closed roads. We are taking this storm very seriously.”

Broadcast information:

The county website also provides a Citizens’ Guide to Emergencies.

LGIT Offers Implicit Bias Training For Local Law Enforcement Members

LGIT Leader article (2018-09 issue) reported that the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT) has partnered with Dr. Kris Marsh of the University of Maryland to offer a one-day course on implicit bias for local law enforcement agencies. The course was developed after the release of the final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in May of 2015 that highlighted the importance of implicit bias training and education for law enforcement agencies.

The LGIT course is based on a successful pilot course developed by Marsh and others for a local law enforcement agency. From the article:

The one day program created by Dr. Marsh is multi-faceted. It includes three main approaches: 1) Lectures and interactive exercises to establish understandings of prejudice and discrimination; 2) Computerized Implicit Association Tests (IATs) to help officers uncover their potential biases; and 3) Virtual reality simulations to assess behavior in real-life scenarios.

The classes are designed to teach officers:

  • The definition of implicit bias and its related concepts, and how to identify implicit bias in everyday life.
  • How implicit biases are measured, formed, and affect judgement and behavior.
  • Strategies to reduce unlawful bias and discrimination.
  • The differences between community and police perspectives related to bias, discrimination, and use of force. …

The goal of LGIT’s partnership with Dr. Marsh is to help police officers recognize biases that may affect their performance. Officers that complete the program should be able to understand how biases can and do have a negative impact on communities, especially minority and marginalized communities. This understanding should give police officers the capacity to show more empathy to the communities they police. Over time, this training should help improve police – community relationships across the state for the better.

LGIT members will receive a discounted of $50 per person and can apply for a LGIT training grant to further assist with the cost of the course. For further information on the course, including dates and registration, please contact Everett Sesker, Law Enforcement Loss Control Consultant, at EverettS@lgit.org.

Useful Links

LGIT Website

LGIT Training Grant Application

“Securing Democracy” Webcast Explores Elections Cyber Security

A news publication focused on government and technology offers a free webcast on elections cybersecurity featuring state and county elections directors describing challenges and best practices.

From Route Fifty:

Don’t miss Route Fifty’s special digital webcast exploring the state of election cybersecurity ahead of the 2018 midterms. Jim Condos, Secretary of State, Vermont, Judd Choate, Director of Elections, State of Colorado, and Noah Praetz, Director of Elections, Cook County, Illinois will talk through election officials’ biggest challenges and offer best practices in how technology leaders can secure the integrity of locally governed election systems.

Tune in on September 20 to gain insights of the following aspects of election cybersecurity:

  1. Building a secure election infrastructure
  2. Training employees on cybersecurity hygiene
  3. Information sharing at multiple levels of government

More Information

Speakers

Register for Securing Democracy: Challenges and Best Practices