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Kandiyohi County tackles upgrades in jail security, technology

Erica Dischino / Tribune Replacement of the camera system that provides surveillance inside the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar and around the outside perimeter is currently underway, with completion expected sometime this fall. 1 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune A pole holds a security camera outside of the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar. The jail's security cameras are being upgraded with a $450,000 investment approved by the Kandiyohi County Board. 2 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune A security camera is placed on an outside corner of the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar. The security cameras are being upgraded with a $450,000 investment approved by the Kandiyohi County Board. 3 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune A locked door separates the visitors area from the jail at the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar. The lock system in the jail is being replaced after the Kandiyohi County Board decided to invest in upgrading the new electronic lock system to replace the original system.4 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune A security camera is placed on an outside corner of the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar. 5 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune The Kandiyohi County Board decided Tuesday to invest in upgrading the new electronic lock system to replace the original system, as well as update the security camera system at the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar.6 / 6

WILLMAR — Not so long ago, the Kandiyohi County Jail was brand new and state of the art.

But after 17 years in operation, it has started to show the first signs of aging, prompting investments in new security and surveillance systems to keep up to date with technology.

The County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to a major upgrade of the jail's electronic door lock system, a project estimated to cost $194,000.

This coming February the jail will be 18 years old, said Sheriff Dan Hartog.

Although the technology was brand new when the doors opened in 2001, "after so much time it becomes obsolete," Hartog said.

The lock system has aged to the point where spare parts are no longer available, he said. Corrections officers can still use keys to manually lock and unlock the doors, but it's time-consuming and can raise the level of security risk, he said.

Money for the upgrade will come out of the revenue the jail receives from the Minnesota Department of Corrections for boarding prisoners from other jurisdictions.

Boarding revenue has been flowing in higher than anticipated this year, and there's enough on hand to cover the project without having to look for money from other sources, Hartog said. "We would have the money in boarding revenue to take care of those costs."

The project will be handled by Accurate Controls Inc., the same company that installed the original electronic door lock system when the jail was built.

Meanwhile, work is wrapping up on another major upgrade: replacement of the camera system that provides surveillance inside the jail and around the outside perimeter.

The county is investing $450,000 on an enhanced system. The new surveillance cameras will provide better images and improve the ability to monitor inmates and correctional officers for safety and security.

Installation has been underway for the past few months and will be completed this fall.

Hartog also gave the County Commissioners a heads up about another pending issue in the jail: a shortage of holding cells and increasingly cramped space in the intake area. The county needs to consider bringing in an architect to look at this section of the jail and draw up plans for renovation to meet current needs, he said.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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