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Killeen jail upgrades security

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Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:13 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

The phrase "behind bars" does not exactly apply anymore to the Killeen City Jail.

In the underbelly of the new Killeen Police Department headquarters in south Killeen, jailers have traded iron bars for solid steel doors and bulletproof glass.

The recently opened jail contains several security upgrades that have led to an environment where jailers feel much more comfortable and safer while dealing with inmates.

Sgt. Betty Adams, jail supervisor, said the jail contains multiple security redundancies that the old jail, located at KPD's north precinct, did not have.

The department opened the jail up to inmates in mid-September. It has a capacity of nearly twice the size of the old jail and can now hold inmates for up to 72 hours. The previous jail could only hold an inmate for 24 hours before they were transferred to Bell County Jail in Belton or released, Adams said.

The jail features security measures that address some of the weaknesses of the old jail.

At the old jail, detained individuals were delivered to the jail at an outdoor ramp. It sometimes provided arrested individuals one last, desperate chance to avoid a cell.

"People used to get out of the squad car and take off running," Adams said.

The new jail has a sally port where arrested individuals are taken inside the jail. It has garage doors that lock behind a police car. No other door to the area can be opened until all doors are closed and locked.

It is one of several secure areas within the jail. Every time a person enters the jail from within the police department, they must enter a secure room before being let in the jail.

Other changes to security are less obvious.

Inmates used to be given pot pies for meals. The new jail trades those for granola bars and sandwiches.

The change in meals means inmates have no utensils and no hot food to fling at jailers and other prisoners.

An officer controls all doors in the facility from a two-screen computer work station.

"This facility is so much more high tech. It's all run on a computer," Adams said.

Security measures are not the only differences. The new jail is brighter and contains several windows, allowing jailers to see prisoners and vice versa, Adams said.

Most cells are equipped with telephones, so inmates can place collect calls without having to bother jailers.

The jail has a padded isolation room known to jailers as the "rubber room," which also has a flushing system in case an inmate dirties the cell with bodily fluids.

Staff size has doubled, from two to four jailers, to help make up for an increase in the number of inmates.

"It's very separated now. That's why we have four people," Adams said. "It's safety, safety, safety. Things happen. And when they do, we want to be on top of it."

The only downside is for inmates. The location of the jail is far from the center of Killeen. So when an inmate is released, it can mean a good walk if they are not from south Killeen.

"I guess they have to walk a little further. It makes them not want to come here any more," Adams said.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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