New security system in works for Benton County jail and justice center

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJune 3, 2014 

Benton County is headed toward a new security control and surveillance camera system at its jail and justice center in Kennewick.

Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved working with the Texas-based Latta Technical Services on design.

The estimated cost of the project is $2.6 million. It's been part of the county's capital facilities plan for a while.

"The equipment we have -- we definitely need to improve it," said Commissioner Shon Small, adding the county also has wanted to expand and use technology to prevent security incidents.

Commissioner Jerome Delvin said he wants performance measures included in the contract.

The project would involve replacing the current security control system --which includes features such as controlled doors, key card readers and intercoms -- and also replacing about 118 surveillance cameras and adding 306 more.

The jail control system was upgraded more than a year ago with the aim of enhancing and speeding it up. But the upgrade didn't improve the system as hoped, and while it's functional, it's not optimal, said Dean Docken, facilities manager.

The county also has been looking at beefing up the camera system at the West Okanogan Place campus, in part because of incidents in recent years including a device left outside the justice center that was made to look like a bomb. It didn't contain explosives but was packed with nuts, bolts and screws.

It makes sense to do the upgrade and expansion work at once, Docken told commissioners.

The contract will come back to commissioners for approval at a future meeting.

Also Tuesday:

-- Commissioners continued discussing the idea of moving to the model of having a primary road maintenance shop.

The county currently has two shops -- one in the Prosser area and one in Kennewick.

But commissioners are considering replacing the aging Kennewick shop with a new facility, and it could be used as the primary shop.

A decision hasn't yet been made. Dan Ford, the county's engineer, said designs for the new Kennewick shop are nearly done.

If the county does opt for a primary shop model, the Prosser facility still could be used for heavy equipment and county courthouse fleet vehicle work and as a satellite location for road equipment and material, he's said.

-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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