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Upgrade from 1992 jail security systems costs $2.1 million

After 22 years, the time has come to update the security system at the Washington County Jail. 

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal to spend $2.1 million to update the jail’s aging security system, and closed circuit television system. 

The systems in place were installed when the county jail and law enforcement center were built in the early 1990s, according to Washington County Commander Roger Heinen, who oversees the operations of the jail. The security system operates all of the jail — doors, sinks, lights and so on — and the closed circuit television system includes hundreds of cameras that are posted throughout the entire facility. 

“This is to ensure the health and safety of our officers and inmates,” Heinen told commissioners at a Oct. 20 county board meeting. “Without the electronics, we would be back to keys.

“When things start to fail, we have increased operational effort and expense, and that exposes officers to additional risk.”

The security system and closed-circuit TV system have reached the end of their service lives, Heinen said. The average system has a lifespan of about 20 years, so the planning to replace the current system started about two years ago. 

A steering committee made up of representatives from the sheriff’s office, public works and information technology departments was put together to explore options to replace the aging systems. In early 2014, Stillwater-based consultant group Elert and Associates was brought in to help the committee determine needs, design and estimated cost. 

The project was put out for proposals. Three companies bid, with Stanley Convergent Security Solutions providing the lowest bid. 

The total investment to replace the two systems is $2,099,600. It will take 10 to 12 months to install the entire project, Heinen said. Elert and Associates will provide the overall management and programming of the new systems once the systems are installed. 

Commissioners learned about the need for the new system through a series of workshops over the past two years. They were also able to tour the jail site and see how the current systems work, which helped them to understand the need for the new systems

“A lot of time and effort  went into this,” said District 4 Commissioner Karla Bigham. “It’s a big decision, but the protection of your and your staff and the inmates are obviously a top priority.”

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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