(TNS) -- ANDERSON – Since the invention of the camera, it has played a crucial role in criminal investigations, as technology has advanced law enforcement agencies using dash and body cameras.
The cameras and video system at the Madison County Jail are instrumental for the safety of inmates and correctional officers because they allow the observation of most areas of the jail.
The images captured by the camera are recorded and can be used for criminal investigations involving inmates and as a defense for correctional officers if inmates allege abuse.
Last week the Madison County Council approved a $110,000 appropriation from the public safety county option income tax safety fund for an upgrading of the cameras and recording system at the jail.
The jail has 120 cameras and Sheriff Scott Mellinger said there have been recording problems with the system for a lengthy period.
“The cameras are invaluable for incidents inside and outside the jail,” Mellinger said. “Video is used for multiple needs. We have had occasions where during the booking procedure we have needed to observe an offender’s behavior or even an officer’s behavior to determine circumstances that led up to an allegation.”
He said the jail staff never knows when the recording system is not working and that made an upgrade of the system necessary.
Lisa Cannon, director of the Information Technology Department, said the video recording system at the jail is not a stable situation.
“I’m begging you to act on it now,” she said.
Mellinger said Monday that the upgrade includes up to 20 new cameras, new wiring and recording equipment. He said over the years the county has replaced some of the cameras.
“The biggest problem is the recording system,” he said. “There are only so many cameras that can be placed on one recorder. We need more video recorders.”
Mellinger said the cameras are used to observe suicidal inmates around the clock and this observation can be the difference between life and death.
Councilman Brent Holland, R-at large, wanted to table the funding request for one month to investigate the cost of the upgrades.
Several council members indicated they didn’t want to delay the funding because of safety concerns for correctional officers and inmates.
In other business, the council approved the hiring of one of three new employees requested by the Information Technology system.
Cannon said the department currently has six employees, the same number as when the county was hit by a ransomware request last year that locked up the county’s computer system.
The position approved was a desktop analyst with an annual salary of $38,723.
The council denied a request for a hardware tech with a salary of $45,895 and a network administrator at a salary of $59,410.
Cannon said she will renew the request for the two positions in September when the County Council begins the 2018 budget review process.
©2017 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.