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Law Enforcement Judicial and DeSoto Centers get New Video System


BRADENTON -- For years Manatee Sheriff's Office (MSO) has been in need of a new video surveillance system at their Manatee County Judicial Center and DeSoto Center. State law requires local governments to retain video records for at least 30 days. After ironing out a few wrinkles, the BOCC sealed the deal for a system that triples MSO's video storage capacity and provides for additional cameras.  

At Tuesday's BOCC meeting, David Thompson, from Manatee Building Management, and IT Operations Manager Mike Hotaling, described a proposed video upgrade system that accomplishes all that is necessary to comply with Florida statutory requirements. The new system takes the county closer to the digital world of the future and further from the analog systems of the past. 

The $383,000 cost of the system, of which the MSO has contributed $125,000 towards the funding, will consist of new video camera control software, network connections, and video storage servers to connect digital video from the Judicial Center and the DeSoto Center to the Public Safety Complex data center. 

One of MSO's caveats was that the cameras immediately start recording 15 frames-per-second (FPS) after motion is detected. Higher speed and definition cameras require more storage space, and the new system will be able to accommodate the 200 cameras, currently being used, and leave plenty of capacity for camera growth.

Gil Illescas, and Dave Torgerson of Qualified Systems Contracting, the company providing the equipment and services, is currently contracted with Manatee County, operating surveillance equipment and supplying IT support. Questions to whether the project approved Tuesday needed to to go through a bidding process first, was a subject of controversy among commissioners.

Commissioner Whitmore made a motion to approve the purchase. Commissioner McClash then attached an amendment requiring the purchase to first go through the bidding process, instead of just approving the equipment be bought from Qualified Systems. McClash said, "I am always being asked by local merchants, 'How can I do business with the county?'" He added, "I tell them to bid on the jobs."

County staff thought Qualified Systems was the right company for the contract because they were already familiar with the county's current operation and what it would take to make the transition. When the amendment went to a vote, it failed, after a 3 to 3 split vote, Commissioners Gallen, DiSabatino and McClash, dissenting. 

Commissioner Whitmore's motion to purchase the equipment from Qualified Systems was approved, 6 - 0, with commissioner Bustle absent. 


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