Council facilitates start of e-summons system

Published 6:33 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

The Windsor Town Council voted unanimously April 12 to amend the town ordinance and adopt a resolution helping make possible the institution of an electronic summons system for use by the Windsor Police Department.

The 6-0 vote to amend the ordinance to allow for the system’s funding followed a public hearing in which one member of the public spoke, offering support for the e-summons system.

Providing background information on the system just prior to the public hearing, Windsor Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle noted that it is called digiTICKET, and its purpose is to modernize and streamline the issuance of citations and the corresponding data collection related thereto.

“This is a program that can potentially be done in concert with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office for an overall cost savings due to an economy of scale,” he stated, pulling from a written staff report. “The Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office intends to implement the system prior to the end of the current fiscal year.”

He noted that an ordinance provision is required to authorize the collection of the $5 fee per citation in order to fund the ongoing maintenance of this electronic summonsing system.

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors was set to have a public hearing Thursday evening, April 21, with regard to the county ordinance and the system.

Continuing to highlight the staff report, Riddle stated, “The initiation of this program can be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act due to the minimization of person-to-person interaction and corresponding prevention of the spread of the COVID pandemic on traffic stops.”

Riddle opened the floor to questions from the council, and Councilman George Stubbs asked him about the collection of the $5 per-citation fee.

“It is collected by the circuit court and the clerk of court,” Riddle said. “The town has nothing to do with the collection of any revenue — never has, never will.”

After the funds are collected, they will come back to the town and be earmarked for a sole purpose.

Mayor Glyn T. Willis said, “It’s funds coming into the town that can only be used for the ongoing funding of the software.”

“Correct,” Riddle said.

Windsor Treasurer Cheryl McClanahan said she would likely have to create a new line item for this e-summons fund.

Councilwoman Kelly Blankenship asked if the $5 fee amount was optional or if it was defined by a body that was beyond the town’s control.

Affirming that the latter was the case, Town Attorney Fred Taylor said, “Yeah, that’s defined by the General Assembly.”

Blankenship said, “So if the software maintenance cost exceeds what we’re collecting, then that’s on us?”

“Correct,” Riddle replied.

During the public hearing, Herb DeGroff said he was wholly in favor of digiTICKET, noting that he had spoken with Riddle about it.

“This streamlines the process, makes it safer for the officer,” DeGroff said of the system. “He’s stopping a person on the road, he doesn’t have to be going back and forth… It all gets done electronically, and it goes to the people it needs to go to.”

He said digiTICKET helps maximize the officer’s time, saving it in one area and giving him time to do other things that he needs to do.

Later in the meeting, McClanahan presented to the council a resolution for appropriating the sum of $29,449.16 from American Rescue Plan Act funding from the commonwealth of Virginia to Windsor’s general fund operating budget for fiscal year 2021-22 for the police technology line item.

The council voted 6-0 to adopt this resolution.