$1.1M in jail security upgrades approved

The Anoka County Board has signed off on a project to upgrade security at the Anoka County Jail.

The county board March 25, on the recommendation of its Finance and Capital Improvements Committee, approved a contract with Stanley Convergent Security Solutions Inc., Noblesville, Ind., in an amount not to exceed $1.13 million.

In addition, there is $60,000 set aside for contingencies, plus another $60,000 for county-provided items, according to Andrew Dykstra, county director of facilities management and construction.

The project will be paid from money budgeted in the Anoka County Building Fund.

The final contract total was considerably less than the original base proposal by Stanley, one of two bids submitted to the county. Stanley’s base bid was $1.34 million and the other base bid from Low Voltage Contractors was $1.48 million.

According to Dykstra, there are only four or five vendors in the country that have the technical expertise to provide this service.

Because the two proposals received were over budget, both vendors were invited to reinspect the jail to examine its existing conditions and were encouraged to provide proposals with some options to reduce the cost, Dykstra said.

Both did, and Stanley’s price dropped to $1.2 million. Two additional optional alterations offered by Stanley were accepted by the county, which shaved another $12,600 off the cost, he said.

“We then negotiated another $53,000 in savings with Stanley without making any changes to the project,” Dykstra said.

In September 2013, the county board approved a professional services contract with Elert and Associates, Stillwater, to not only do the design work on the project, but also provide construction management services.

“We estimate completion sometime in September or October,” Dykstra said.

The jail’s security system or “nerve center” is very outdated and does not meet today’s standards, according to Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart.

“The project will improve security and safety for inmates, staff and visitors that include service groups, as well as reduce liability for the county,” Stuart said.

The project includes upgrades to the central command center, common systems interface platform, video management system, intercom and public address systems and uninterruptible electrical systems.

While some updates to the jail have taken place since it opened in 1983, much of the equipment is original and does not function properly anymore, according to Dykstra.

For example, the images on the current video system in the central command center, which monitors all activities in the jail, are very fuzzy and the system that controls the 400 to 500 doors in the jail does not always work, Dykstra said.

The jail’s physical capacity totals 248 inmates, but its functional capacity is 198 inmates, while the county employs some 100 people at the jail who are spread over different shifts, Stuart said.