Sheriff Adam Fortney cancels telematics system contract, addresses community in video. By LUKE PUTVIN | January 22, 2020
Sheriff Adam Fortney ended the contract for the telematics system, or “black boxes,” at the beginning of the year. The systems were originally installed under the previous sheriff Ty Trenary to track how patrol cars were being used and to reinforce good driving habits.
On January 16, Fortney released an “All Hands Message” on the Snohomish County Sheriff YouTube channel explaining his reasoning to cancel the contract.
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH0c68EOdxU
“When we make decisions, I sincerely want you to know the why behind those decisions,” Fortney said. “This decision was actually made several weeks ago, and we wanted to get the best way to get the message out to everyone, and I hope this is it.”
The contract cancellation mostly just affects officers on the patrol side. “We are no longer using the telematic system at all… I was worried that the message would get out that the new sheriff is changing the pursuit policy: ‘there’s no longer black boxes, the new sheriff does not care about safety.’ That could not be further from the truth.
“The way I see the safety part is that we spend a great deal in background investigations in hiring the best of people, and I truly believe that. Then we spend a lot of time and money training you, then we give you a gun, we give you a badge and most importantly, we give you the authority to take peoples’ liberties away. That is a really big deal to me… I want to trust our employees, and that is where trust comes in… I am trusting you to do the right things at the right time for the right reasons when it comes to driving our patrol cars.”
The monitoring cost 12,000 dollars a month, and that didn’t include the money spent in installation and the boxes themselves. This decision freed up money in the budget, Fortney said, and one of the things the department is doing is buying new jumpsuits for the patrol officers. This is something that they have been wanting to do for some time now, he said.
“I can very well understand [the black boxes were] not popular with many patrol deputies,” said Executive Dave Somers on Facebook, “but also know accidents and high-speed chases and wrecked vehicles cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of General Fund tax dollars. Wrongful death cases cost us millions.”
Comments in reply to Somers’ post shared similar sentiments. “Any oversight of police is a good thing,” said one commenter.
Others questioned if the County Council set policy on this. The Lynnwood Times will continue to report on the issue as more information becomes available.
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