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Butte jail control room

Shelley McDonald, an officer at the Butte-Silver Bow Detention Center, oversees a largely manual switch control system for locks, intercoms and cameras on Monday. The jail will soon get major upgrades to a computerized system. 

Butte-Silver Bow is about to overhaul the control system for all of its locking doors, cameras and intercoms in the Detention Center, changing from mostly mechanical switches to an integrated computerized platform.

A precise price tag hasn’t been determined yet but costs for the jail upgrades likely will run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Undersheriff George Skuletich said Monday.

But money for the project has been in the budget for three years, so it’s not a new expense.

The county put out a “request for qualifications” and three companies responded by saying they could do the work. If commissioners give an OK this week, ABBA Logic LLC of Racine, Wisconsin will draw up plans for the work and suggest a price.

Skuletich said most of the control components have been in place since original construction of the jail, which was completed in 2005, and some are simply wearing out or are out-of-date.

Many of the switches and camera monitors are operated from a single room and are spaced so far apart that the detention officer at the helm has to walk about to get to them all.

Under the changes, Skuletich said, “It will be easier to control a lot more with a smaller amount of screens in a smaller space.”

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The upgrades will affect housing, booking and master control panels, the locking system, intercom system and camera recording system. The project includes some new cameras but much of the existing hardware will be incorporated into the new computer system.

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There are currently intercoms throughout the facility, including jail cells that allow inmates to communicate with detention officers and vice versa. There are also cameras throughout, including entrances, halls and common areas.

The upgraded recording system will support 80 cameras, store a minimum of 45 days of recording and include monitors showing 20 shots each. The project will also include a backup of the entire system, on-site training and a local service technician.

“Our biggest concerns when we put this (request for qualifications) out was that the people were qualified to do it and the response time to Butte-Silver Bow was good so if anything came up, someone could come right away to fix it,” Skuletich said.

Skuletich said if commissioners authorize a professional services agreement with ABBA Logic Wednesday night, the company will design all the upgrades and then give a price for the work.

If it fits within the department’s budget for the project, great, he said. If not, some features or work might have to be scaled back.

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