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County touts security upgrades at jail

January 16, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

In a move to increase safety for officers and inmates, the Imperial County Sheriff's Office this month will begin a $1.8 million upgrade to jail facilities.

The upgrades at the regional adult detention facility and the Herbert Hughes Correctional Center will take six months.

In a press conference Tuesday, Sheriff Harold Carter said the improvements are necessary to assure the protection of correctional officers and inmates.

"If you have a family member working in the jail system you want to know they are safe," Carter said. "If you have family in custody you want to know they are safe."

The project consists of improving technology inside the three jail control rooms and integrating the three control rooms into one system.

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The upgrades will allow each control center to control both facilities and all sections of the jail in case of an emergency.

In addition, there will be improvements to the security electronic systems and upgrades or replacements of security doors.

Correctional officers will no longer need keys to open and lock doors in the Herbert Hughes facility. The locking and unlocking of doors will be done from the computer systems in the control room. The other jail facility already has a control room locking system, but that system will be upgraded.

The upgrades will allow for 24-hour visual access of the facilities' housing areas and the exterior grounds of the facilities through the installation of 83 closed-circuit television cameras and the integration of existing camera systems. The cameras will remove any "blind spots" that exist.

There will be a digital system to record all activity in the jail facilities, which means if an inmate is injured by another inmate, sheriff's officials will have both visual access to the crime and a record of it.

"They will be seen," Carter said, adding inmates will know they are being watched.

Carter added there will be an intercom and paging system placed in the housing areas, cells and security doors. If inmates needs help they will have quick access to officers through the intercom.

The upgrades are meant to replace systems in place for more than 20 years, jail officials said.

Funding for the projects will come from the state Criminal Alien Assistance Program, the jail improvement fund and the inmate welfare fund. Carter said no money for the project will come from the county general fund.

The project is the result of a three-year research and development effort in which a study was conducted to determine what upgrades are needed in the facilities.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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