ANACOCO —The Town Council at its meeting Monday night voided a contract for what has been called a police version of Facebook, telling Randall Bryan he has no authority to financially obligate the village.
Bryan disagreed, saying he had asked the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office if he could enter into the deal and had been told he could.
“It’s a police matter that doesn’t concern y’all,” he told the council.
“That’s not so,” responded Mayor Keith Lewing. “Any contract we propose to enter has to be brought to the council,” he said. That includes, the mayor said, any pact that he might want. “The council decides - not you, not me.” the mayor said.
Council members Laverne Miers said the village has been advised it needs to void the contract with LENSS. She said the village’s insurance carrier and the Louisiana Municipal Association have raised liability questions regarding the system.
Bryan entered the contract in March with the Law Enforcement Network Sharing Solution, at a cost of $50 monthly, he said. The system the department previously used, he said, cost $100 per computer station.
LENSS allows real-time commentary between its users (currently in 28 parishes, according to the chief). As an example, an officer in one town during a routine traffic stop could discover a weapon in a vehicle. Through LENSS, he could advise other jurisdictions of the weapon’s presence, should any of them have to approach the vehicle.
The commentary that accompanies such observations is the area that raises concerns in some quarters.
Bryan, while disagreeing with the council’s interpretation, nevertheless agreed to voiding the contract. “OK, we’ll do away with it. But what about the fact that the budget includes it”? he asked.
Council member Mark Phillips said the fact that the police budget might include funding for LENSS or anything else does not preclude proposed contracts having to go to the council.
“It doesn’t matter that the expense is in your budget. There is a proper way to do things,” Phillips said.
“It’s plain and simple,” said Miers. “Your department is under our umbrella. Any and all contracts come through the council.”
“Your job is enforcing city ordinances,” not contracts and such, the mayor told the chief.
Lewing took the opportunity to review rules and procedures and the role of the city clerk in them.
“The clerk is responsible for city records, contracts and other things. The assistant clerk assists or acts in the clerk’s absence, that’s it,” he said.
On other matters the council:
Announced dedication of U.S. 171 through the town as the Sgt. James Martin Highway will be on Nov. 18;
Reminded that “Hot Dogs in the Park” will be held for the fourth year on Halloween, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.;
Re-scheduled its November meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, due to Lewing’s scheduled absence on the normal meeting date.