Congressman Michaud Secures Laptops For Wardens, Visits Training SiteSeptember 11, 2006 - TRCAUGUSTA, 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. BaldacciThe 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.”Submitted by Mark Latti, IFWNOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.