Public Safety Advisory General Committee Meeting

August 12, 2015 - Meeting Minutes



The Public Safety Advisory Committee met on August 12, 2015, in the Erie County Department of Public Safety (ECDOPS) building at 2880 Flower Road.  The meeting was called to order at 1:08 pm. by the Advisory Committee’s Chairperson Jim Rosenbaum.


Members In Attendance: John R. Grappy, Richard Stebell, Bill Hagerty, Karen Molitor, Jim Carstater,  Sue Sutto, Cathy Hornick, Mike Tesore, Angela Vincent, Jim Rosenbaum,Dale Robinson, Nicole Fuller, Abdul Osman, Jeff Hawryliw, Brian Mesaros and Joe Walko.   


Opening Comments:  Committee Chair Jim Rosenbaum opened the meeting stating that Erie County Council had approved the Next Generation Radio System 6-1.


Approval of Minutes:  Minutes from the July 8th Advisory Committee meeting were approved with one change to the first line.  The first line is to be corrected to read that the Public Safety Advisory Committee’s Executive Committee met on July 8th, 2015 (not June 17th). Sue Sutto moved to approve the July 8, 2015 minutes, as corrected, Richard Stebell seconded – All in Favor.


Director of Public Safety and Subcommittee Reports:


Director of Public Safety – John Grappy reiterated that the Erie County Council passed the 26.5 million dollar funding for the Next Generation Radio System.  In January Council used money left over from other capital improvement bonds to fund the professional services contract.  FCC licensing is the next issue.  Public Safety has sent letters to 6 agencies and municipalities asking them for letters of concurrence, i.e., for permission for ECDOPS to use same frequencies in use by emergency services in Erie County.   ECDOPS needs these letters so that the FCC seeing the frequency is already in use by another entity doesn’t reject ECDOPS application.  Three letters have been signed and returned, one is on its way and ECDOPS is following up on the other two.  John’s department with others, have scoped several sites looking at existing towers for ECDOPS potential use as well as potential sites for the building of towers, which may be included in the bid specification documents to secure 95% of coverage 95% of the time. John would like to engage several of this Committees’ Communications and other sub-committees to define the actual configuration.

-ECDOPS is working on their 3 year budget to include upgrades to their systems.  They are in the final phase of hiring 8 full-time 911 tele-communicators which will bring ECDOPS up to full staffing.  John discussed they are working with the administration to look at these positions as career positions rather than a  job as ECDOPS has had difficulties in retaining staff long- term due to wage and benefit competition from other municipalities.  The average turnover for the nation is 20% and EDCOPS turnover to date has been greater.

-ECDOPS is also working on a Public Safety website which will include an event calendar and links to other agencies.  The target date for the website being online is October1.


Law and Legislative Affairs Committee -   Jim Carstarter reported the sub-committee has been active reviewing proposed legislation and communicating via e-mail rather than meeting. Much information has been passed.  Jim updated the committee members on House Bill 1276 background, which was passed and signed.  Also several pieces of other legislation proposed and/or passed at the House and Senate level that effect public safety, such as House bill 911(which passed and signed), 347, 339 (passed House – nowhere in Senate) one addressing Fireworks (public safety opposed), and attempts to update PA building Codes, among other things. If other members have any proposed legislation they want this sub-committee to look into please do not hesitate to e-mail Jim.


Law Enforcement and Records Committee – Mike Tesore reported the sub-committee has 8 members and held their first meeting. They are asked to examine the “Protocol System for Law and Fire Dispatch” and the sub-committee is willing to review and advise ECDOPS on any such protocol system presented to the sub-committee for review.  Mike also spoke of the proposed Records Management system and issues raised due to the current systems in place in some municipalities. For instance, he explained Millcreek Township is currently in year 2 of a 10 year record management system so they have to use what they have.  - With respect to the Next Generation Radio System, Mike also discussed the Township’s points of concern raised in meetings regarding the 3 emergency frequencies Millcreek Township uses that would be advantageous for the County to use as well, for example, unknown future costs to municipalities to upgrade their radio rooms due to technology changes between now and once the new system is ready to start, as well as the number of proposed mobile radio units per officer/cars. 


Fire Services Committee – Joe Walko reported the sub-committee met last month and it looks as though the committee’s main focus will the standard of fire education in the fire service.  Tentative meetings will be the last Thursday of every month.  They are working on finding two more members on their sub-committee so they will have good coverage throughout the County.


Emergency Medical Services Committee (EMS) – Bill Hagerty, reported he has recruited several members.  The sub-committee has had two meetings to date and is tasked with working on the Erie County EMS plan requirements with respect to Act, 35, the Commonwealth’s Emergency Medical Services System requirements.  Bill explained that Act 37 requires all Erie County EMS agencies to maintain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week staffing.  Bill handed out a copy of the sub-committee’s 4th draft of a Collaborative EMS Response Plan for Erie County EMS Agencies that elect to participate.  They think it is generic enough to be applicable to every EMS entity and will help them follow the law.  It is not mandatory for every EMS agency to adopt.  Once a final draft is finished, Bill raised sending the plan to the Dept. of Health for review and comment and then the prospect of presenting the final plan to county EMS agencies.


Emergency Management Services (EMA) – Bill Heald was absent.  Dale Robinson reported the sub-committee has not yet met.


Public Education Committee – Cathy Hornick discussed various public event opportunities, Facebook, and public service announcements that the committee sees as valuable opportunities to promote what is going on at ECDOPS and the Advisory Committee. They are particularly interested in the ECDOPS website and getting the opportunity to have the sub-committee use space on that website to distribute


news and information.  They discussed the problem of low attendance with municipal council/supervisors’ meetings.


Communications Committee – Jeff Hawryliw has gotten four people recruiter for his sub-committee and is still trying to recruit more.  He has been surprised in the lack of interest he encountered from the other people contacted and sought suggestions for names of individuals others may know that are knowledgeable in radio communications.  Jeff would like to liaison with ECDOPS radio people.


Old Business: 

  • John Grappy reminded everyone of ECDOPS 2015 Open House, Sept. 26th 10:00 am-1:00 p.m.  
  • John Grappy and Jim Rosenbaum both stated they would like to know the meeting dates/schedules for sub-committee meetings as they would be interested in attending sub-committee meetings when available.


New Business:

  • Discussion to place between Jim and John regarding establishing a County deplorable search and rescue team.
  • Dale raised the County Technical rescue team.
  •  A lively discussion among Committee members took place regarding the decline in the number of volunteer fire department membership, the difficulty recruiting new volunteer fire fighters, the costs to municipalities of maintaining paid fire departments, the benefits of municipalities/County perhaps considering shared or regional paid fire departments and the possible Commonwealth and/or County help in funding/subsidizing paid regional fire departments.  Suggestion was made for a possible new sub-committee to review the issue.


Adjournment: Motion to adjourn made by Cathy Hornick. All in favor, meeting adjourned at 2:02 p.m.


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