Wichita County Approves Emergency Funds

Wichita County Commissioners took action Monday morning, voting to bypass the competitive bidding process and approve more than $68,000 for new security cameras at the Wichita County Detention Center.

County Judge Woody Gossum said approving the funds quickly was important. He said, "If we went through the total bid process we're extending that out 30 days for the time to respond, another couple weeks to review it. Meanwhile that area has intermittent coverage."

Even though one set of cameras is down there are 3 others in place to monitor inmates and sheriff's deputies. Wichita County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Derek Meador said, "Those systems are important for the safety and security of not just the inmates but the staff and the facility as well."

Gossum also spoke to Newschannel 6 about the importance of a complete system.  He said, "Things have happened before and the cameras cover what really happens instead of what someone may have thought happened. That's been extremely valuable to have that under surveillance."

The camera systems watch over about 26 individual cells, hallways, and intake areas. Gossum said those areas where inmates first enter the facility need to be monitored closely. "That's probably one of the most dangerous times for someone that's you're bringing in. One, if you're bringing them in they're probably not happy about it. Two, they may be under the influence of some substance and they're not acting rational."

Deputy Meador said adding the new system should be easy to do over the next few weeks. "Once they say 'ok we're done' then were up and running. There's not going to be any other equipment that well have to add to it, purchase or anything like that."

Gossum said despite not allowing open bidding on the contract, the county still got a good deal from a local supplier they've used before.

Jack Lamson, Newschannel 6