BLACKFOOT – Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland met with the county commissioners Wednesday morning to provide updates from his office. During his update, he shared information about exploring the idea of having a personalized application developed for the Bingham County Sheriff's Office and the residents of Bingham County.
Prior to him introducing the information on the app, county Clerk Pam Eckhardt said there have been some hiccups on the approval for hazard pay for the county officers spanning from March until the end of December.
Rowland said he wanted to provide his officers with hazard pay similar to how the Idaho State Police are providing it to their officers. ISP increased every officer's pay — ranked Sergeant and under — by $1 an hour, allowing them to receive increased income for protecting and serving during the pandemic.
Eckhardt said the committee that oversees Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds being distributed by the state did not like the format of how the funds would be distributed, saying it looked as though it would be provided as a bonus to the deputies.
Eckhardt said she is going to reintroduce the request including the amount they planned to request as paid overtime during the pandemic for officers who were working multiple shifts to cover for others who were in quarantine because of being in contact with confirmed cases.
The pre-approval that Eckhardt plans to request will be put on hold until the county completes the request from the committee, including updating the employee handbook with a new policy regarding hazard pay and the qualifications for it. Once that policy is in place, they will send the next request to the committee to attempt to obtain hazard pay for the officers.
After sharing this information, Rowland introduced the potential mobile application that he and Chief Deputy Jeff Gardner were presented. The application is specialized for that specific department, including each piece of functionality that can be chosen. It would provide real-time updates to the department as well as specific areas of information to the public including up-to-date listings of who is in the jail, weather, areas of where an accident has happened, and many others.
The hope expressed during the meeting was that it would increase the efficiency of the department and create a conduit of information for the general public.
Rowland said the department has social media already, but the interaction and customization of it continues to be lacking. He admitted that he does not even maintain a Facebook account, but rather has a select few that can access the account to manage it, sharing the information that is provided. He went on to note that although his office has a website, it is not interactive by any means, and requires people to carry out specified searches to check the inmate registry.
Rowland expressed large amounts of interest in the application, noting the different levels of utility for his officers as well as the public and the interaction between the two. He noted that the total cost will be near $30,000 for the development and updates for the next three years and he wanted to seek approval from the state to use CARES Act funding to pay for it. He noted that according to the developer they met with, most agencies that have hired them to create an app for their departments used CARES funding to afford it.
Once the funding is approved for the application and it heads into development, updates will be provided on when and where it will be available for download.