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Council approves Lexipol funding

The Windsor Town Council voted unanimously May 4 to appropriate $25,748.79 from the fiscal year 2020-21 budget’s unappropriated fund balance to the Police Department Computer and Technology line item for the initial purchase of the Lexipol policy service.

In a May 3 letter to the Windsor town manager, mayor and Town Council, Windsor Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle explained the benefit that Lexipol would provide his department.

He stated that the Lexipol policy manual program will provide his department with an excellent and current policy manual that will incorporate updated policy with best practice standards, accreditation standards and legal review of policy.

In addition, Lexipol provides policy training for all officers and also partners with Police One for additional online training in law enforcement topics and trends, Riddle stated. He added that policy and training are major factors for agencies attempting to secure accreditation, which is a future goal for the Windsor Police Department.

Officials in Windsor are hoping additional training of its police force will help the town avoid situations like the one last December, in which two Windsor officers held Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario at gunpoint and pepper-sprayed him, against Windsor Police Department policy.

In a May 5 interview, Riddle explained that the total upfront cost of Lexipol is $19,706.10.

“That is the annual subscription fee prorated from today through the end of (June), which is $922.80, (and) the one-time fee for professional services is $18,783.30, and that is what will be dispersed sometime between now and the 5th of June when their invoice comes in,” he said. “And then on July 1, we’ll owe another $5,970.40, and that’s for the next fiscal year’s subscription.”

Council member Kelly Blankenship initially had a concern with regard to approving the funding for Lexipol.

“We’ve also talked about needing to do some other things in the general fund budget to support the police department, and I just wonder, if we vote on this now, are we tying our hands to our possibilities on the other things that we discussed doing?” she asked.

In an interview after the meeting, Blankenship made clear she did not have any reservations about the value of Lexipol and what it would do for the police department.

“My concern was by voting on this one item, individually, we were basically moving it to the top of the list,” she said. “I wanted to make sure the chief was clear we may not be able to do this and the other items we’ve been discussing.”

She noted that what ultimately paved the way for her “yes” vote on the upfront Lexipol funding was when the chief made clear at the May 4 meeting that Lexipol was, indeed, No. 1 on his wish list.

Blankenship also indicated during the meeting that it would be helpful to know if CARES Act funding may aid in paying for Lexipol.

During her post-meeting interview, she said Town Manager William Saunders had told council members that another municipality had used CARES Act funds to pay for a product like Lexipol, so the possibility exists that CARES Act funds could be used in this case, but Isle of Wight County would need to approve the use.

“If the county approves it, then we’ll get reimbursed and we can rebuild our unappropriated funds,” Blankenship said. “But until (Saunders) puts in an application and the county makes a decision on it, it’s not a guaranteed thing it will be covered under the CARES Act.”