St. Mary's Changes Course on 911 Address Verification, Photographs Out - Southern Maryland Headline News

St. Mary's Changes Course on 911 Address Verification, Photographs Out

By Guy Leonard, County Times

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (April 17, 2008)—The St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners approved a program that would have a contractor traverse the county and confirm the addresses of residents to shore up inaccuracies that have plagued the county’s 911 emergency dispatch system — but it will be without the controversial provision that allowed photographs of homes to be incorporated into the database.

County government had been buffeted in recent weeks with complaints from citizens over concerns for their privacy once they learned of the program.

The measure passed by a 3-to-2 vote, with County Commissioners Lawrence Jarboe and Kenneth Dement, both Republicans, opposing the measure.

Jarboe lamented that the $400,000 grant from the state to be used for improving 911 services could be better used outside of the program.

Dement said he “wasn’t happy” with the options before the commission that would have supported the program; he supported a motion from Jarboe to cancel the contract, but it failed.

Commissioner Daniel H. Raley (D-Great Mills) supported the measure, but admitted that they should have taken in community concerns more seriously.

“There have been several missteps but they were not intentional,” Raley said. “We underestimated about how much our citizens are concerned about their privacy.

“We should have picked up on that.”

Raley, along with County Commissioner President Francis Jack Russell and Commissioner Thomas Mattingly, the other two Democrats who made up the three votes to pass the measure, said that the contractor should stay on county and state roads in doing the assessment and should not even have a camera in the car.

Once the program was underway, Raley said, “60 to 65 percent of the problems [with 911 directory inaccuracies] can be solved.”

Mattingly, himself a volunteer firefighter, said the program would be a great benefit to public safety.

“County government has the responsibility to provide for the public safety and welfare of its citizens,” Mattingly said. “This is a proactive way to correct problems we’ve had for years.”


Pay No Attention To Those Men Photographing Your House, March 14, 2008

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