New-look Kalamazoo County Jail expansion holds open house
Updated: Tuesday, April 2 2013, 10:30 PM EDT
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - For the first time today, the long-anticipated addition to the Kalamazoo County Jail was open to the public.
The $23.5 million expansion is not yet up and running, but hundreds of people took advantage of tours being given today.
"The current facility was not designed to take on the kind of prisoner load we are currently experiencing as the city no longer has a lockup. Portage no longer has a lockup. Everybody has to come to the county," said Augusta Police Chief Jeff Heppler.
Heppler hopes the more efficient system will free up manpower.
"We can get them in, get our guys back on the street doing what they need to be doing out there: protecting our citizens," said Heppler.
Not only will the podular design make it easier for staff to watch inmates, Sheriff Richard Fuller says it'll also be safer.
"I have very many vantage points throughout the whole facility to look into cells from just about anywhere," Fuller said.
He tells us new technology in the cells will also lessen overtime as visitors will be able to see inmates through a video chat system.
That way staff won't have to spend time accompanying inmates to and from visits. Overall, it's a system departments like Muskegon hope to adopt as their own.
"This was a well thought out design and it shows efficiency is achieved with the staff as well as a good layout plan and booking area," said Lt. Mark Burns of the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department.
Fuller says the expansion is 85 percent complete, and that parts will begin to open over the next few months.