County leaders, on Tuesday, approved a $112,000 contract that they hope will improve security at the Inyo County Juvenile Detention Center in Independence.
Chief Probation Officer Jeff Thomson said a new security system at the juvenile hall “is very well needed.”
“The juvenile hall was built in 1995 and we’ve had the same security system since then,” Thomson said. “When the equipment went in it was top of the line, but it’s time to make some adjustments.”
The Board of Supervisors approved American Security Group as a sole source provider for the security system, as the company is already familiar with Inyo County law enforcement, having done the security upgrade at Inyo County Jail several years ago.
Thomson said two-thirds of the cost of the security upgrade will come from a state Youth Offenders Block Grant, with the remaining $37,198 coming from the county’s Criminal Justice Facilities Trust.
Thomson said the current security system at Juvenile Hall includes several cameras and monitors. However, all but one of the monitors are currently down, there are several blind spots that the cameras don’t pick up and Juvenile Hall does not have the ability to record off its security cameras to preserve evidence if there is an incident at the facility.
“The camera issue is minor,” Thomson said. “The location of the cameras is good, but we’ve noticed that there are some dead spots that the kids can find. But we have three monitors, one with four views, and right now that’s the only one that’s working. It’s pretty archaic.”
With the new security system, Thomson said he would be adding cameras to areas of the facility that have previously been staff only, such as the laundry room, so administrators “can expand the program” and provide inmates access.
Thomson also said that “recording capability is a huge asset to law enforcement,” and will be a safety net for juvenile hall employees and the kids housed there if an incident occurs, because administrators and, if need be, the courts, will be able to review exactly what took place.
“The system is also going to be completely upgradable and we could add cameras as needed,” Thomson said. “I think we’ll have a good system in place and as the technology improves, our system will improve as well.”
Interim Public Works Director Doug Wilson said he had some concerns that the security system upgrade would require heavy construction and associated licenses and permits, which the county may be required to pay for.
Thomson said the contract with American Security Group states that the contractor will be responsible for all permits and licensing associated with the project.
Wilson also said that there are concerns that the new system will add servers to the network at Juvenile Hall and create a heating and cooling problem. Wilson explained that the facility’s servers are currently housed in a small closet and have had a history of overheating.
Thomson said American Security Group had a walk-through scheduled for Wednesday, and would address the server heating problem then.
“This seems like a legitimate time to upgrade,” Fifth District Supervisor Matt Kingsley said.
Third District Supervisor Rick Pucci added that the project is cost-effective before making the motion to approve the contract.