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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Committee confronts Nashua mayor over delayed approval of police cruiser computers

NASHUA – Members of the aldermanic Finance Committee confronted Mayor Donnalee Lozeau at the outset of Wednesday night’s meeting, asking her to explain what is behind what they called a delay in getting approval for funding necessary to outfit new police cruisers with required technology.

Ward 9 Alderman Ken Siegel told Lozeau that the committee learned that “this purchase has been pending for quite some time and hasn’t been brought before the Finance Committee.” ...

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NASHUA – Members of the aldermanic Finance Committee confronted Mayor Donnalee Lozeau at the outset of Wednesday night’s meeting, asking her to explain what is behind what they called a delay in getting approval for funding necessary to outfit new police cruisers with required technology.

Ward 9 Alderman Ken Siegel told Lozeau that the committee learned that “this purchase has been pending for quite some time and hasn’t been brought before the Finance Committee.”

The matter was resolved when the committee, minus Alderman-at-Large Dan Moriarty and Ward 6 Alderman Paul Chasse, unanimously approved installing the new equipment.

The computers, laptop-tablet hybrids that are called “ruggedized” computers in the proposal, cost roughly $4,000 each, or about $40,000 for the 10 proposed computers.

The cruisers themselves were approved for purchase in March, leading Finance Committee members to ask Lozeau on Wednesday why approval for the computers had yet to come to the committee.

Lozeau denied suggestions that she was intentionally stonewalling the process, saying she hadn’t even been told the new cruisers had arrived and were ready for outfitting with new equipment.

“I was concerned about cost … I wasn’t aware the exiting laptops couldn’t be used in the new cruisers,” Lozeau said. “Plus, the IT division needs to weigh in on this.”

Siegel said it’s “crucial that this equipment be approved,” or putting the new cruisers into service will be delayed.

He described the old equipment as “obsolete” and inappropriate for use in the new cruisers.

“This dates back to March 28,” he added, noting that the purchase of the cruisers themselves was approved in March.

Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess called the alleged delay “a serious issue” because “these are computers that go into cruisers to allow officers to search databases … all the communication work they do via computer is done by these mobile data terminals.”

Donchess said he believed that the Police Department notified Chief Financial Officer John Griffin in April that the new cruisers, which were purchased in March, were ready for outfitting with the new computers.

“That’s the first step to outfitting the new cruisers,” Donchess said of the computers.

“Maybe the CFO isn’t telling you what’s going on,” he said to Lozeau.

“The CFO does tell me what’s going on,” Lozeau countered, adding that the “last I knew, the CFO and purchase manager spoke to me, I spoke to IT and told (IT director Bruce Codagnone) to move forward with an analysis.”

Lozeau took umbrage with Siegel’s suggestion that there might be “some information you’ve selectively not been aware of,” saying she has “no problem moving forward with this tonight.”

“I just wish someone had communicated with me,” Lozeau said.

She reiterated that approval from the IT director is essential “by ordinance,” and that’s one of the parts “I have been waiting on.

“I believe that’s what the Finance Committee was waiting on, as well,” she said.

Lozeau also told the committee she received no calls from Police Chief John Seusing.

“If he was concerned about this, I’d think he’d reach out to me,” Lozeau said. “He has not talked to me about this.”

During the discussion period, Donchess and Ward 4 Alderman Pam Brown requested that Lozeau provide copies of emails on the subject.

“I would like to see how clearly the Police Department spelled out” that there was a delay in purchasing the equipment, Donchess said.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).