County weighs Sheriff’s Dept. computer upgrade

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department wants to do a $251,000 computer upgrade next year on the county jail’s aging electronic security system, and the proposed capital project cleared its first hurdle Monday.

The Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee voted at the County Office Building to recommend the project to the board’s Capital Projects Committee. That panel meets July 8.

“It is quite a project,” sheriff’s Capt. David Curtis, jail administrator, told the Public Safety Committee Monday. “It’s technology updating software.”

The sheriff’s office is proposing two 2014 capital projects totaling $341,450 as part of its proposed budget for next year. One is the proposed $251,000 digital upgrade for security at jail, built in the early 1990s at Harrison Street at Route 29. The other is a $90,450 project to buy three full-sized police package patrol cars.

The county has had an ongoing security contract for years with Black Creek Integrated Systems of Irondale, Ala., which county Administrative Officer Jon Stead termed “the standard in the industry.” The company uses high-tech software and touch-screen computers to control the locking system at the local correctional facility.

Black Creek’s current video security system – installed in April 2006 – is seven years old.

“That system is on borrowed time,” Curtis said.

Curtis said only a few parts have been replaced over the last several years, but the hope is to do a major upgrade. He said the jail has four recording systems, and if one goes down, he can’t replace it. At one point, he said 13 cameras were knocked out, but that situation was rectified.

Stead asked if there was any way to phase in the project over three years.

Curtis said that wasn’t practical because there would be incompatible computer systems. He said that would also be inconsistent with what vendor Black Creek does.

“They can pretty much plan on five years for everything,” he said.

Curtis said he talked to county Information Services Director Perry Lovell, who agreed the jail’s security system is getting old.

“Everything is built to be obsolete in a couple years,” said board Chairman William Waldron.

Michael Anich can be reached at [email protected].

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