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Discussion Continues on Public Safety Building Design

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Discussion Continues on Public Safety Building Design

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee today reviewed another potential option for how a renovated County Public Safety Buildingcould possibly be reconfigured, but County Administrator Jason Molino maintains such design discussion at this point is premature. 

The committee looked at rough drawings, prepared by LaBella Associates architects, showing one way in which a pod configuration might be added to the building.  Two months ago, committee members had asked for information concerning the idea of building a small cell pod off one corner of the building to replace the jail’s existing dormitory section, so that the existing dormitory section could be turned into program space. 

The concept drawings reviewed today show an 8,300 square foot pod which would move 44 jail beds to the pod, for an estimated cost of $5.3 million, which would be in addition to the more than $6 million earlier estimated by LaBella.  In June, concept drawing were presented for a two-phase project that would move the Sheriff’s Road Patrol and Civil divisions to a new adjoining structure, then renovate the existing facility to create jail program space, and improve non-jail bed facilities and systems.  It was again noted that in a pod configuration all inmates in the pod can be supervised by a single corrections officer, which could produce operational savings.

Administrator Molino, however, stressed that operational and functional needs “must first be understood, justified, and quantified”  before proceeding with any serious discussion on design of a renovated building.   Administrator Molino, Sheriff Ken Lansing, and Jail Captain Ray Bunce will confer and return to the committee with additional information and direction on how the discussion should proceed.

Among other business today, the committee heard the second-quarter report on the County’s Reentry Program, presented by coordinator Marie Boyer of the County’s Department of Mental Health Services.  Boyer, in part, reported that the program has reached out to 97 clients during its first six months and enrolled 48.  Boyer noted that her work, which starts with inmates when they are in the jail, typically lasts 60-90 days, with carryover then to longer term services.  As a “person-oriented and participant-driven program,” Boyer sees the Reentry Program’s voluntary nature as a harm reduction program a key element to its success—for example, in achieving self-referrals to mental health and substance abuse treatment services. 

Committee Chair Rich John praised program performance to date as “impressive,” both in terms of the number of contacts made and the work that has been accomplished.