Floyd County looking to January move into new Law Enforcement Center
By Bob Steenson, [email protected]
Many previous predictions have fallen through, regarding when the new new Floyd County Law Enforcement Center will be ready to be used and detainees can be moved from the old county jail into the new one.
Still, Chief Deputy Pat Shirley said, he feels “the most comfortable I’ve ever felt” saying they will move into the new facility in January.
An inspection last week by Delbert Longley, the chief jail inspector with the Iowa Department of Corrections, “went really well,” Shirley told the Press Wednesday.
“He liked everything he saw. We just have a few things to get done yet – most of it has to do with training. Some of it has to do with a couple more inspections, some local inspections. But other than that I think we can get this done soon,” he said.
“I hate to put a date to it – do you know how many times I heard a date, and I’m scared to do it – but I can legitimately say I feel the most comfortable I’ve ever felt, moving into this facility in January,” he said.
Communications Innovators of Pleasant Hill has completed the programming for the security and surveillance systems in the facility, so now training can begin for the jailers and other Sheriff’s Office staff.
Emergency evacuation training, including how to evacuate the detainees, is an important part of that, Shirley said.
“We tried to allow at least two weeks for training, so that might put us to the middle of January, as long as it goes smoothly. We have to show some of this certain training to Delbert, and now that the facility’s operating we can get in there, we can train, and then I can sign off on the things that Delbert wants, we can get that back to Delbert, and then he can give us the key,” Shirley said.
“I’m very optimistic that I can get this training done that we need in two weeks, but I’m also not going to rush and have one jailer not understand a part of this. We’re going to make sure we train correctly and we should be in this jail in January,” he said.
Once Longley gives the official OK to move in, the process will probably take a couple of days, Shirley said, although when the detainees will be transferred won’t be announced for security reasons.
A lot of the furniture, equipment and supplies currently being used in the old jail and Sheriff’s Office on the top floor of the courthouse will be moved over and continue to be used in the new 32-bed jail, he said, so it will take some coordinating to make sure the equipment is in the right place at the right time.
One concern is making sure all the electronic equipment is working as needed.
“A lot of things you’re going to bring over and plug into the network and make sure are functioning,” he said, crediting county IT Director Bernie Solomon with his work so far.
“He’s been helping us out tremendously in trying to stay ahead of where we’re at with all our communications. I’ll give a shout out to him. He’s been amazing with the transformation from up there to down here. He’s been right with us in that,” Shirley said.
Shirley described the prospect of the move as a little overwhelming, but said they’ve been planning and getting ready for it for a long time. Some supplies that are not needed on a daily basis have already been moved over, he said.
A hallway is being constructed from the main hallway on the ground floor of the courthouse into the atrium, because the existing courthouse elevator will need to be used until the new atrium elevators are operational, to move the detainees from the current jail to the new jail, but also to transfer them back and forth as needed from the new jail to the district courtroom in the courthouse.
Shirley said he hopes the new hallway is ready in time for the transfer, but if it isn’t then detainees will be taken outside for the short distance from the courthouse entrance to the new atrium entrance.
“We weren’t really planning on going outside this time of year, but the project is so far behind,” he said.
“Everybody over here is getting really excited,” Shirley said about the prospect of moving into the new facility.
“It seems like it’s just right around the corner, but I’ve been on this project from Day 1 and I’ve seen how many times I’ve been let down on a date,” he said. “I am not playing that card anymore.
“I will say I feel real good about getting in here in January, maybe even toward the middle of the month, as long as everything goes like it should,” he said.