Westmoreland County to spend $1 million to re-up electronic monitoring contract
Westmoreland County will spend more than $1 million over the next three years to rent new equipment to monitor criminal defendants on house arrest.
Commissioners this week approved an extension of an existing contract with Behavioral Intervention Inc., the Boulder, Colo., company that since 2015 has provided the county’s probation department with monitors that track the whereabouts of defendants and their sobriety levels.
The deal signed off by Commissioners Charles Anderson and Ted Kopas calls for the county to pay nearly $30,000 a month to lease the equipment. Commissioner Gina Cerilli voted against the contract extension, saying it was not the product of a competitive process to find a vendor.
“This is about the process. It was supposed to be out for proposals. The company raised their prices and adult probation (department) refused to go out and get other bids,” Cerilli said.
Kopas said probation department officials found no other proposals for reliable equipment and the cost increase for extending the current contract will be covered through raising monitoring fees assessed to criminal defendants. Westmoreland County judges are expected to increase those monthly fees from $10 to $12, he said.
“We need to have reliable equipment,” Kopas said.
Sharon Bold, the county’s chief probation officer, said her staff reviewed equipment from other providers and concluded that none were as reliable as the monitors pitched by the firm that currently services the county.
The county currently has about 230 defendants serving time on house arrest.
“There were a lot of things we looked at and a couple of companies came in and did demonstrations. They weren’t reliable and we’ve been with (Behavioral Intervention) for a long time and they’ve been reliable for us. The judges want it to be as reliable as possible,” Bold said.
Cerill said she wanted to see if there were cheaper options worth considering for the equipment.
“I just want them to sharpen their pencils and to go through the process,” Cerilli said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]