Safeguarding correctional officers and staff while on the job.

Author:Smith, Don
Position::CT FEATURE

Westchester County Department of Corrections in New York faces a double-edged mission every day: Maintaining secure, humane correctional facilities that comply with local, state and federal legal requirements while protecting more than 800 staff members from personal harm in the course of their daily duties. The Westchester DOC provides care, custody and control of males and females 16 years of age and older who are committed or remanded to its facilities by local or New York state courts. Westchester's inmate population is split about 90 percent men and 10 percent women, and many inmates come from the five boroughs of neighboring New York City. The detention campus in Valhalla, N.Y., encompasses nearly a half-mile area, with more than 980,000 square feet of building space.

In 1995, a correctional officer at the 1,500-bed, five-building facility was injured by an inmate, prompting Commissioner Rocco Pozzi and county executive Andrew J. Spano to mandate the installation of a personal security system to protect correctional officers while on duty.

One system tested at the facility used an audible signal and another used an electronic body tag. An audible signal is fine as long as it can be heard, but in some cellblocks, it could not be heard; the electronic tag system did not register if the tag was covered up when an officer walked past the sensors. A different solution was needed.

An evaluation team from the facility researched available personal security systems and ultimately determined that Security Escort from Bosch Security Systems was most suited to Westchester's facility. Security Escort is a wireless help/call system that tracks and locates people or property throughout the surveillance area. The system responds to signals initiated either automatically or manually by a transmitter worn on the user's clothing or attached to a fixed object. The signal relays to the central console and actively tracks the signal to provide continuous information for alarm response management. The cost for each individual transmitter is $150.

Demonstrated Flexibility

Correctional officers and other staff members wear the small transmitter unit, which is about the size of a pager or mobile telephone, on their belts. The transmitter continously emits a silent signal that relays immediately to the central console. The alarm location displays on the screen, showing the name and picture of the person wearing the unit and tracking his or her movements for...

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