Sheriff to add jail surveillance cameras

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Since taking office last January, Crenshaw County Sheriff Mickey Powell has made tightening jail security a top priority.

“I’ve really tightened up on them up there,” he told commissioners Monday evening.

He trimmed his staff of guards who had become lax with security and placed a deputy in charge of the operation.

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At Monday’s commission meeting, Powell requested additional surveillance cameras. He asked that a camera be placed in each of the jail’s day rooms, where inmates spend the much of their day.

The spaces currently have no working cameras.

“They no nobody’s looking at them,” he said. “It’s a safety issue.”

The current cameras allow the jail administrator, Powell and his top investigators to monitor inmates online 24 hours a day. He asked that the new cameras work with the current system.

Powell requested at least six additional cameras. Commissioner Merrill Sport suggested replacing the entire surveillance system. He said the cost was low and technology had advanced by leaps and bounds since the current system was installed.

“With the technology today, they’ve got screens where you can watch them all at one time,” he said.

Commissioners tasked Powell with pricing systems and returning to the next meeting with a few estimates.

In other news, the commission approved the addition of a third investigator for the sheriff’s office. Powell has selected a deputy to promote and will hire a new deputy to fill the position. He told commissioners he already has an applicant and is prepared to offer him the job.

Funds for the new personnel will come from revenue from the fire tax passed last November. Seventy-five percent of the tax goes to Crenshaw County Fire and Rescue. The rest is designated as public safety funds.

The commission used a portion of the money to tighten courthouse security, adding a guard at the front door.

The projected annual income of the public safety funds will cover the security guard and a new investigator.

Rather than waiting until the new fiscal year begins in October, commissioners permitted Powell to add personnel immediately, with one stipulation. The new investigator will continue to work at his current salary until October, and then be given a pay raise.