Gloucester County Administrator, Brent Fedors replied via email to Mr. Chuck Thompson’s challenge to his proposed audio recording policy. Mr. Thompson, several other people and I have spoken out about the unreliability and potential for misuse of audio recordings, but Mr. Fedors appears to be on a mission.
You see, over the past several months, complaints have been made by people about some county employees they had conversations with. Each basically turned into a he said, she said situation and in every instance it appears Mr. Fedors sided with the county employees. He appears to have sided with them to the point of implementing a formal audio recording policy that contains no detailed protocols and highly favors the government.
We understand about protecting the people who work for you, but at this point we believe Mr. Fedors is being unreasonable, unbalanced and will implement his proposed policy no matter what the Board of Supervisors or the People have to say about it. That is a serious problem.
It also appears Mr. Fedors did not do a cost benefit analysis on his proposal as he did not seem to know how much it will cost to store the recordings. He acknowledged there would be costs associated with storage but did not know how much storage he could pay for with your tax dollars. Many times we have seen Supervisors Meyer and Bazzani kick back funding requests because they lacked a cost benefit analysis, but not this time. Maybe they will during the next public discussion about the administrators proposed policy. One would assume storage costs for audio recordings would be pretty much the same as for video recordings; so why not go with the most balanced way of recording?
Our insistence that tamper proof body cams are far more reliable to capture interactions between county employees and the People has been completely ignored by Mr. Fedors. He must have read the stories on the internet about government employee corruption being uncovered with body cams; why else would he resist body cams? Our Sheriff's Department is using them so why shouldn't animal control, field inspectors and other local government employees who regularly interact with the People use them?
To read our other posts about the administrator’s proposed audio recording policy click on this link: http://www.gloucestercounty-va.com/
The following is Mr. Fedors’ reply to Mr. Thompson’s challenge:
Mr. Thompson –
I read through your emails (excluding links), and would be glad to meet with you and a Supervisor, however I am not inclined to dig up the past, reopen an investigation of alleged events that occurred before my tenure, nor inject myself into court proceedings that I have no business questioning the validity of – I am focused on the future, and how to assure consistent compliance with a policy that has been vetted in the public forum.
At this time I am not inclined to disallow audio recording altogether, nor am I comfortable allowing it to continue without a clear and straightforward policy that can be applied uniformly across all situations.
I welcome any input you may have with regard to edits of the policy as presented – please send them to: county.administrator@ gloucesterva.info.
J. Brent Fedors
Gloucester County, Virginia
6467 Main Street
Gloucester, VA 23061
The following is Mr. Thompson’s reply to Mr. Fedors:
Thank you Brent;
I would like to request a meeting on Tuesday, May 30th at 1:00 PM ans request that John Meyers and further request that Keith Hodges also be present for a meeting regarding the policy of audio recordings of the public by county employees.
I find it very disturbing that you consider hard evidence of severe misconduct by county employees to be not worth your time because something happened before your tenor. Does this mean that the county is now hiring the most hardened ex convicts because their past does not matter? It means the same thing. Who cares if you hire a rapist for a woman's shelter? We are looking toward the future and not the past? Can you explain to me these differences? I'm a little slow here.
Also, if I understand you correctly, nothing that ever happened in the county before you came on board counts? Does that mean all county debts have been wiped out? Are taxes going down now that we do not have to pay past bills?
If I may, audio recordings by any county employee is not acceptable under any circumstances based on the history of extreme abuse by county employees. Only video cams would be considered acceptable and every citizen must be made aware of such and offered an opportunity to equally record the encounter for fairness.
I look forward to this meeting.