Jefferson County received approval for their first two CARES Act purchases.

The CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Air, Relief, and Economic Security Act, is a stimulus bill passed to assist in purchases made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county will be purchasing the Albert Monitoring Network and the Patrol Witness system. The Albert Monitoring Network is a monitoring system for the county computer network to detect hackers. When a hacker is detected, the system alerts the county IT team.

“We’ve dealt with cyber attacks in the past, which have not been successful, and phishing emails,” Emergency Manager Rebecca Squires said.

The Patrol Witness system allows officers with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to automatically connect to the office’s server from the parking lot to remotely upload all the data from their shifts.

Lieutenant Alan Fullmer stated that currently, officers have to physically remove an SD card from the video devices, bring them into the sheriff’s office and then upload the footage onto another computer. Uploads can take the same amount of time as how much footage they have.

“We’ll be able to get the footage more quickly because right now, getting footage relies on an officer being able to come in and putting the SD Card in for the download,” Fullmer said. “We’ll be able to have more time out on the roads too.”

Squires stated the county was also recently approved for a perimeter fence around the perimeter of the jail which would allow the county to conduct evacuations in case an outbreak were to happen.

“We’ve also put in for and are awaiting approval for radios for the first responders, no touch fixtures in the courthouse and annex, as well as election supplies so we can hold safe, in-person voting,” Squires said.

According to Squires, approval for purchases can take a week or more.

The commissioners also accepted $1,870,903 through the Governor’s Public Safety Grant Initiative. The initiative aims to reimburse funds used for law enforcement and detention salary benefits, which the county will use to lower the tax levee.

Clerk Colleen Poole stated that accepting the money means the county will be unable to raise the levee by the regular 3%, which means residents will pay less in taxes this year than last year.

“If we had not taken the grant and done the 3%, the levee would have been $7,828,157,” Poole said. “With the grant, the levee will be $5,784,552.”

Although the foregone 3% will be eligible to be claimed by the county in 2022, it won’t be the same amount of money received through the governor’s initiative, which does not have to be repaid.

Squires said this grant is part of the CARES Act funding as well.