County holds Imperial police computers for week, denying access to city officials

At the Aug. 21 Imperial city council meeting, approval was given for purchasing four new laptop computers, software, printers and scanners for the city’s police department.
    While the city had budgeted money for 2017-18 to purchase some of the new software, the laptops, scanners and printers were not in the budget, said City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland.
    During open discussion on the purchases at last week’s council meeting, city officials indicated other reasons came into play for expending the funds for new laptops, scanners and printers.
    It started July 31 with a request from Chase County Emergency Manager Duane Dreiling for the four police laptops and an I-pad.
    Dreiling said he wanted to pick them up for Homeland Security “to be sure they were accounted for and being used,” Police Chief Wisnieski told council members at last week’s meeting. Dreiling also mentioned an audit, Wisnieski said.
    The police laptops had been purchased with federal grant money by the Nebraska Emergency Management Association (NEMA).  
    As requested, Wisnieski turned over three laptops and an I-pad to Dreiling that day.
    The next day Dreiling asked the police chief for passwords and codes to access the machines, which Wisnieski declined to provide,
    “That was appropriate” by Wisnieski, said City Attorney Josh Wendell.
    “Certainly there was information on those machines that is of law enforcement nature that the city has a right and obligation to remain as confidential,” he said.
    Wisnieski said he offered to open up the computers with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials present, but never was taken up on the offer.

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