LEC changes will boost securityIn a matter of months, the lobby to the Law Enforcement Center will be open 24/7, reducing costs and increasing security. Some changes, however, are already taking place.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
In a matter of months, the lobby to the Law Enforcement Center will be open 24/7, reducing costs and increasing security. Some changes, however, are already taking place.
The main level of the Law Enforcement Center houses offices for the Jamestown Police Department, the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office and the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Right now people can conduct business with any agency and that will continue with the changes.
Downstairs houses the dispatch center, which will be closed off after the changes go into effect. People can currently go down there to report crimes 24 hours a day.
The second level houses the Stutsman County Correctional Center — the county jail. The changes will make video visits the only way to visit inmates, instead of the current face-to-face system.
Being open 24 hours will make the building more secure, decrease costs and change the way the public interacts with law enforcement in their offices, officials said.
As of Thursday, doors to the Jamestown Police Department and Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office were sealed to the public. People still can talk with officers through a glass window, and will be able to after the changes.
Stutsman County Auditor/Chief Operating Officer Casey Bradley said it’s the first step in securing the lobby to be open at all hours of the day. People will still be able to request an officer after hours by phone. During the day they can talk through a window with office staff.
A company that handles the food that jail inmates consume is also handling the change in the visitation in the jail.
“We went with Turnkey Corrections,” Bradley said. “They took over commissary last year for us, and part of the service they offer is video visitation, which went hand-in-hand with eliminating the workload for some of the staff with the face-to-face visitation we currently have.”
Last summer the Stutsman County Commission hired Turnkey to take over commissary duties. A portion of funds from inmates and visitors using the commissary goes to the county and the rest goes to Turnkey, Bradley said.
By law the county can’t profit off inmates, so the county’s share of money taken in from the commissary will go into the inmate betterment fund, where the cost of renovations will be taken from. The renovation project to increase security at the LEC will eventually pay for itself without the county seeing an invoice.
The installation date for the three inmate visitation kiosks in the lobby is March 11, Bradley said. Still, training and public awareness campaigns will need to occur before the lobby is open at all times.
“Before we finalize and turn that into a 24-hour lobby and restrict access downstairs after hours, we’ll probably put out some public announcement and stuff so everybody has the opportunity to know change is coming,” he said.
The move also allows for more flexibility with staffing at the county jail.
“Traditionally, right now they (Stutsman County Correctional Center) bring in one staff member to handle visitation, so that wouldn’t be needed,” Bradley said. “But it’s the burden other staff members have to deal with that we’re hoping to alleviate.”
For example, having a corrections officer monitoring a face-to-face visitation would mean that officer couldn’t be performing duties elsewhere in the jail.
Jamestown Police Chief Scott Edinger, and Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser were both unavailable for comment Thursday.
Bradley said there is no timetable for when the lobby will be open at all times.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com