Pyle responds to jail report findings

The Clovis News Journal asked County Manager Lance Pyle to address the security risk assessment at the Curry County jail. The assessment was conducted in August by Manuel D. Romero of the New Mexico Association of Counties.

Here are Pyle’s responses to the report:

Overview on the assessment

I am concerned with (Clovis News Journal’s) determination to release this report in full disclosure to the public. For the employees, the public and the inmates’ safety, the county has made improvements. Improvements are still needed regarding the physical plant operations and continuance of these improvements will be based on security risk and funds available.

Surveillance cameras

Problems raised: Poor quality, not enough

Within a few months of being appointed as county manager, I became aware of the camera issue and brought that to county commissioners’ attention. It is my understanding that the county commission instructed a previous county manager to get the cameras and DVR updated back several years ago, but that was never done.

In February we started this process, brought consultants in, issued a (request for proposal) and recently the county commission approved the purchase and the contract at an amount of $165,244 for the adult facility. In October I put the camera upgrade for the juvenile facility ($65,212) on hold, because I felt those dollars could be better utilized at the adult facility.

At the time of the escape (eight inmates, on Aug. 24) the detention center had 24 cameras, of which three were outside. We had one door camera on the front of the building that is monitored by the booking staff of all who enter the facility. It is not a recordable camera.

The contract calls for 55 indoor cameras and 10 cameras outside the facility that are recordable.

Exterior security

Problems raised: Not enough lighting, trees aided in escape, no secure evacuation area

The county has removed all of the trees around the facility and installed additional outside lighting.

We are currently working with utility companies and landowners on securing the alley between Eighth and Ninth streets. Our plan is to request the city to close the alley, install a security fence to have a secure area to transport inmates from the main facility to the annex and to temporarily hold inmates in the event of temporary evacuation of a pod.

Architectural evaluation

Problem raised: Major structural security deficiencies

The county has contracted with Durrant of Phoenix, Ariz., to conduct a physical plant security assessment. They will provide a security/physical plant evaluation and recommend upgrades to include schematic plans and outline specifications for any equipment, system, and/or products prioritized based on the security needs of the facility.

Staging improvements

Problem raised: Need for an immediate action plan to correct issues

I have requested that the maintenance staff and detention management hold off on all additional big financial expenditure repairs until we have the report back from Durrant. I would rather wait 30 to 60 days instead of doing it incorrectly and having to go back and spend more tax dollars to correct that decision.

We need to spend time to research, gather the information and bring the individuals/consultants in that have the experience and resources available from New Mexico Association of Counties and other counties’ experience in the area that we are lacking.

The detention center committee has taken these steps in the last year by securing the detention center cameras, utilizing the New Mexico Association of Counties, and most importantly contracting with Durrant, which has detention experience specifically in security and architecture nationwide. Their cost on the first phase is $8,540, but the cost savings to the county will amount to much more.