Council approves $130K contract with county jail

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

During its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Selma City Council approved a new contract with the Dallas County Jail for housing city inmates over the coming two years.

Previously $200,000, the contract approved Monday was for $130,000 for eight beds, with $30,000 reserved for the juvenile detention facility, and $50 for any additional beds that might be needed.

The issue was slated to be approved in the council’s consent agenda, but Selma City Councilwoman Miah Jackson had questions relating to the $30,000 fee for the juvenile detention center – Jackson was under the impression that the fee represented money previously owed, but the contract stated that it was an “annual” payment.

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In the end, the contract was approved unanimously, with Jackson adding the caveat that the $30,000 represented a one-time payment.

Elsewhere in the meeting, the council approved a resolution from Selma City Councilwoman Susan Youngblood that would extend the Opportunity Zone in Selma to encompass the entirety of the riverfront, making it one of the “longest functioning riverfronts” in the nation.

On hand for the meeting was Davis Mim, who leads the Alabama League of Municipalities’ (ALM) Information Technology (IT) in a Box program, which assists cities across the state with protecting their computer systems.

In light of the recent cyberattack that crippled city computer systems, council members had a series of questions, specifically if the program could pinpoint the cause of the hack and recover the stolen data.

According to Mim, whose presentation touched on those issues but dove much deeper into best practices and the program’s capabilities, the data could possibly be recovered and the culprit uncovered.

“Do not think that your city is unique,” Mim said, noting that attacks of this nature are becoming more frequent in the digital age. “Do not think that your city has been targeted.”

Mim stated that cities often put themselves at risk by failing to pay adequate attention to the three biggest technology risks – poor passwords, patching and staff – but all three can be addressed through policy.

According to Mim, cities have to adopt a proactive approach to managing their technology – passwords can be strengthened with a password policy, staff can be strengthened through rigorous and continual training and patching, essentially updating systems and equipment, can also be addressed through a citywide technology policy that requires systems to be assessed and upgraded as needed.

“It starts with policy,” Mim said. “Cities typically aren’t proactive.”

It is unclear whether or not the council will take advantage of the program, but Mim felt confident that the ALM program could get to the bottom of the city’s technology woes.

Selma Police Department (SPD) Acting Chief Robert Green was also on hand for the meeting to present SPD officer Harry Tubbs with his gun and badge as he faces early retirement due to health concerns.

Council members took turns heaping praise upon Tubbs, with Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin calling him a “well-respected” officer and Jackson calling him the “epitome” of a law officer.