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What do you guys think?

Congressman Michaud Secures Laptops For Wardens, Visits Training Site

AUGUSTA, Maine –The first phase of the plan to equip all Maine Game Wardens with laptops has started. A group of twenty Maine game wardens will be in Augusta on Monday, September 11 as one of the first groups to participate in the initial stage of implementing the Maine Warden Service Data Solutions Project. The project, funded by a $600,000 COPS federal grant secured by Maine Congressman Mike Michaud, will equip all Maine Game Wardens with laptop computers.

"Maine's communities and sportsmen benefit greatly from the Warden Service's ongoing excellence in search and rescue and conservation law enforcement. With more cutting-edge equipment, our Warden Service will be able to build on their proud tradition of serving our state and protecting outdoor enthusiasts,” said Congressman Mike Michaud.


The laptops will be invaluable tools that will allow game wardens to manage incidents and investigations from the field and on scene. Laptops will be used for writing investigation reports, and supporting search and rescue operations through distributing maps, photographs and descriptions of missing persons. It will increase officer efficiency with electronic incident reports and real-time information.

“This is an excellent example of how departments can work together and increase efficiencies. This will save taxpayers money and provide better service to the people of Maine,” said Governor John E. Baldacci

The laptops will soon employ a Records Management System (RMS) that will allow for real time record information, which will enhance public and officer safety. The more complete, accurate and timely data will enhance officer performance and aid in crime analysis. It will also allow for electronic filing of reports.

“Currently, Game Wardens average two hours a day handwriting reports which are submitted through regular mail or are driven to regional headquarters. Computerization will significantly increase the number of hours per week that a game warden is in the field increasing public safety and enhancing community-policing efforts,” said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


The real-time access to data for all game wardens will improve allocation of manpower, as well as improve communication. This project will also allow the Maine Warden Service to link with other state and federal law enforcement personnel through computer aided dispatch and electronic information storage and retrieval.

Congressman Michaud visited with the game wardens as they conducted their training at the Department of Public Safety Office building in Augusta. Michaud addressed the wardens about the program, and their role in assisting in the state’s security in the aftermath of 9-11 five years ago.

One of the primary areas determined to need improvement following the analysis of September 11 is the ability for municipal county state and federal officers to be able to communicate with each other and share data. Through the deployment of laptops, Maine Game Wardens will enhance their ability to be interoperable with other agencies. Maine Game Wardens were called to respond to outside their normal roles as a result of 9-11, and helped protect such sites as Maine Yankee, Bath Iron Works and the Canadian boundary.

“Maine’s game Wardens are instrumental in Maine’s homeland security plans. Game wardens often are the only state officers in much of rural Maine, and these laptops will assist game wardens not only in protecting Maine’s fish and wildlife, but also in protecting Maine’s citizens from threats along our borders and within the state,” said Michaud.

Upon his promotion to Colonel two years ago, Colonel Thomas Santaguida began the process of automating the Bureau of the Warden Service. The Warden Service is comprised of 126 sworn officers, as well as support staff. It is the second largest state law enforcement agency. Initially, the concept of equipping Game Wardens with laptops was just in the planning stages, but Congressman Michaud was able to secure a Community Oriented Policing Services grant that provided the funding to implement the colonel’s vision.

“Two years ago, I set a goal to equip each Maine Game Warden with a laptop computer. and automate the data processes of the Bureau. Thanks to the diligence of Congressman Michaud in Washington and the support of Governor Baldacci here in Maine, Maine game wardens will continue to be a leader in the field of conservation law enforcement and search and rescue” said Colonel Santaguida. “Governor Baldacci’s Executive Order directing state agencies to utilize technology to improve services has been extremely valuable in providing us effective support as we promote our project. In the end, the implementation of technology within the Bureau of Warden Service will equate to better service to the citizens and visitors of Maine. After all, that is why we do what we do – to serve the public in the best manner possible.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This raises a lot of questions for me. What I want to know is, if the $600,000 Michaud got in a grant will buy the laptops, who is going to pay for the rest of the program expenses from here on out? It says that 20 wardens showed up to get their laptops. Nice. That leaves the other 106 without any. Who's going to pay for those?

I'm for helping the Warden Service make my hunting, fishing and trapping experience the best it can be and I'm willing to pay my share but Homeland Security? Are we now going to start funding Homeland Security on the backs of hunters and fishermen?

I'm trying to find out from any or all wardens what they think about this in all honesty.

What do you guys think? Am I wrong? Am I suffering from "All politicians are slimballs syndrome"? Why is this whole story pissing me off more and more as I think about it and keep re-reading the press release?

Weigh in here somebody and tell me I'm not crazy or tell me I am so I can get help before it's too late.
 

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It says that 20 wardens showed up to get their laptops. Nice. That leaves the other 106 without any. Who's going to pay for those?
I think you should carefully re-read the article. It might ease your concerns. The very first sentence says all wardens are going to have laptops. They are not leaving out 100+ wardens.
It doesn't say all of the grant was spent on these 20 wardens and their laptops. It doesn't say there isn't money left in the grant.

It says: A group of twenty Maine game wardens will be in Augusta on Monday, September 11 as one of the first groups to participate in the initial stage of implementing the Maine Warden Service Data Solutions Project.


If it makes the system faster, more efficient and lets wardens spend less time writing reports by hand I have no complaints. It's about time they get to catch up to the rest of law enforcement where technology is concerned. I hadn't given any thought to them having to hand write and snail mail their reports. Honestly - who does that in law enforcement in this day and age? Imagine the time saved each day x the number of wardens working each day. Multiply that savings by 365 days - works for me. The time saved will be saved by more than the wardens. It should save a lot of time in the office that opens each report and deals with it by hand.

I'm out in the middle of almost no where, on the Canadian border. We do rely on wardens a lot. When someone out here let a huge number of dogs die in the back yard it was a warden who was called and showed up first. I'd rather have Brad and Jeremy spending more time in the field than behind a desk.

Sound reasonable?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The first phase of the plan to equip all Maine Game Wardens
I read the press release several times over and over and it is far from clear as to exactly what $600,000 is buying. I would like to know though and just what is the first phase.

Where I agree in your assessment that wardens should have more time to be in the field, I don't buy the idea that having laptops will provide them any more actual time. Contrary to the myths spewed for years about how computers were going to turn us all into slugs with no work today because computers would do it all, it doesn't work that way.

I make a living on a computer and I know that a computer connected to the Internet has a distinct asset that will be valuable to wardens - instant information. For that, they can better do their jobs. Saving them time... no!

My concerns are still there and I don't believe unfounded. Again I have been in the computer industry a long time, dating back to the days of Fortran in the late sixties and early seventies. I am quite familiar with associated costs of running a network. $600,000 is a drop in the bucket.

Well, I'm certainly not opposed to providing the best means for law enforcement to do their jobs, I want to know who is going to continue to fund for the hi-tech equipment, software updates, maintenance, etc. etc.

Having at a minimum 126 wardens in the field with laptops is an expensive venture. If this is part of the regular law enforcement within the State of Maine and necessary as part of Homeland Security, I certainly hope both entities put it into their budgets to pay for it.

Hunters, fishermen and trappers pay their fair share, EVERYBODY can chip in with the rest of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mainewoods,

If I came across as short, uppity and a know it all, it wasn't my intentions. If I did, I apologize.
My intentions were not to prove you wrong or not to appreciate your input. On the contrary. I just want some good discussion about issues that will affect us all.
 

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Not at all. I've been on the net a long time too, though not as long as you! In the early 80's we stood around a computer in high school and called another computer at UMaine, and waited what seemed like hours for something to happen. Anyway - It's easy to assume hard feelings where none are meant - so I make a point not to. And when they are meant....ehhh... we'll all get over it. My memory isn't good enough to hold a grudge.

I've written to Mike Michaud and asked for more information. I'll pass it along when I get a reply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, that's the kind of info we could all use. I had thought about it but right now I just don't have the time but I appreciate your efforts
 

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In today's mail:

Dear Robin:

Thank you for contacting me regarding recent acquisitions by the Maine Warden Service of search and rescue equipment, including laptops for use in the filed. I appreciate hearing fom you.

I respectfully refer you to the Maine Warden Service for more information and details about this program. You cay contact the Service at your convenience at:

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Bureau of Warden Service
284 State Street
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0041

(207) 287-2766

Thank you again for your inquiry. In addition, I also provide occasional email updates on a range of issues affecting people in Maine. If you would like to receive this information, please visit my website at http://michaud.house.gove/email_newsletter.asp and sign up for my email newsletter. I appreciate the opportunity to represent you.

With warmest regards,

Michael Michaud
Member of Congress

cc: Colonel Thomas A. Santaguida
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
(same address as above)

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I didn't ask about search and rescue equipment. I specifically asked about laptops for warders. I haven't heard anything about new S&R equipment.

I have writing, editing and publishing deadlines the rest of this week. Next week when I have a little time I'll track down Col Santaguida's email address and be in touch with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Outstanding and Thank You!!
 
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