AL - Response time to break up brawls is slower Juvenile Detention Center's electronics failure causes more problemsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Response time to break up brawls is slower Juvenile Detention Center's electronics failure causes more problems 08/30/00
By LEE DAVIDSON Staff Reporter
BAY MINETTE - The Baldwin County Regional Juvenile Detention Center has had more young inmates get into brawls in one week than it usually has in one year, Director Cyndi Thompson said Monday.
A few of the maximum 30 juveniles at the center have gotten into three fights since Aug. 18 when the center's security system shut down because of an electronics failure, she said. On average, the center only has two fights a year, she added.
Thompson said Monday that keeping the center for troubled juveniles in southwest Bay Minette open without an inner-facility security system has jeopardized the safety of youths, teachers and staff.
"It's been a difficult situation since it started. We've had to re-think how we do everything - from putting the kids to bed, to opening the doors. It's been a learning experience," Thompson said.
While the three separate incidents were not life-threatening to anyone, Thompson said she remains concerned about the possibility of further problems. For example, because staff can only open doors with keys, response time to break up juvenile disputes is slower, she said.
Thompson said the center's security system was disabled Aug. +8 when a contract worker dropped a drill on top of the sys tem's mainframe, causing an electronics failure. Damage to the control panel caused a virtually system-wide surveillance shutdown, she said.
So far Thompson has scheduled about $1,300 in overtime work to ensure safety and security at the center. The ongoing overtime expense, as well as repair or replacement costs for the downed system, will be sent to the contract firm's insurance company, County Clerk-Treasurer Locke Williams said Monday.
According to Thompson, a contract worker from Genesis Electronics, a Pensacola-based company, damaged the system. A representative from Genesis Electronics could not be reached Monday afternoon.
Genesis Electronics was supposed to be improving the center's intercom system - work that is unrelated to the security system - but the worker was dealing with wires in the ceiling above the mainframe when he dropped the drill on the keyboard that controls the system, Thompson said.
When the system shut down, the worker apparently tried to reset the mainframe, Thompson said. After hours of failed attempts to restore the system, Thompson asked the company to leave the center's premises, she said.
Bryan Clark, owner of Imperial Systems Inc., another equipment services company, looked at the control panel last week and estimated Monday that it will cost about $20,966 to repair the downed system or about $22,204 to replace it by installing a different system.
Finishing the intercom work will add another $17,618 to the $22,204 needed to replace the downed system, Thompson said.
Imperial Systems Inc. was the only other company that sought the contract for the intercom installation work at the detention center, and it is the preferred firm to do the replacement work, Thompson said.
Thompson and county commissioners present at a budget meeting in Bay Minette Monday said they would rather purchase a new system rather than try to repair the current system.
It's up to the full Baldwin County Commission to decide which company is awarded a contract for the work, Williams said.
If the county awards Imperial Systems Inc. the contract, Clark said his company could complete the task within 60 to 90 days.
Williams said the county will terminate its contract with Genesis Electronics for the unfinished intercom work at its next meeting Sept. 5.
The county is in the early phases of negotiation with State Farm Insurance, the Pensacola company's insurance provider, Williams said.
Starting the afternoon of Aug. +8, heavy doors that opened at the command of a secret code punched into a control panel became inoperable except with a key, Thompson said. Last week, more sets of keys had to be ordered because keys became the only tool for inner-facility entry, she said.
It has been difficult to control lighting in some of the cells since the shutdown, Thompson said. Last week, the county's maintenance staff re-routed some of the lighting to allow maximum use of the facility, she said.
-- Doris (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 2000