Commission votes to look into automated security

Argen Duncan

The Curry County Commission has voted 4-1 to request proposals for an automated security system at the county courthouse.

At their meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Frank Blackburn voted against the measure, and commissioners Daniel Stoddard, Caleb Chandler, Wendell Bostwick and Robert Sandoval voted for it.

The vote came after a presentation by David Barnes of Isotec Security Inc.

“No facility using Isotec Security anti-terrorism technology has even suffered an armed assault,” Barnes said.

Barnes said Isotec Security technology is designed to provide an opportunity to identify and isolate a threat, contain its velocity and combat it. The company tailors systems and protocols for each site.

“Your security has to conform to your system,” Barnes said.

He said the security needs to be community-friendly, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, not deface the aesthetics of the building and allow quick escape in case of a fire.

“Fire trumps all,” Barnes said.

For Curry County Courthouse, Barnes recommended entrance portals with metal detectors, glass that could withstand three close-range shots from a .357-magnum gun and an interlock system to keep people from entering if a possible weapon was detected on them.

Barnes recommended making the west courthouse entrance for employees and certain court officers only. The unmanned portal would allow only one person to enter at a time, with proper identification.

For the south entrance, Barnes recommended making it the handicap entrance, manned by a security officer. The portal would allow more than one person in at a time, but no bags would be permitted except for those carried by disabled people.

Barnes said bags disabled people brought would be hand-checked.

For the main entrance, he offered two suggestions. In one scenario, one or two guards would man the entrance and people would have to submit bags and anything metal on their persons for X-ray examination.

Because that door wouldn’t offer handicap access, Barnes said, the security doors could close faster, allowing about 12 people through per minute.

In the less expensive scenario, two guards would man the entrance without automated command and control.

Barnes offered three choices for security systems, ranging in estimated price from $130,000 to $330,000. Each stage offered payroll savings of more than $100,000 per year, according to his estimates.

The systems are meant to be low-maintenance, Barnes said.

Sandoval said he wanted to have what was necessary, but he thought one of the worst things would be to have guards with nothing to do at the main entrance, so the public wondered why they were being paid. Bostwick moved to issue a request for proposals to look into an automated system without committing.

Pyle later said the budget includes five new positions for courthouse security officers, for a total of six officers. However, the commission has instructed county administration not to fill the positions until other options, including automation, are considered to avoid recurring salary costs.

In other business, the commission:

• approved a $60,750 contract with Smith Engineering Services for oversight of phase 3 of the Melrose Wastewater project.

County Manager Lance Pyle said the Village of Melrose is paying for the second phase of the project, installing a second wastewater pond. Curry County has a Community Development Block Grant for the third phase, which consists of cleaning out the old pond, relining it and bringing it back online.

David Schwent of Smith Engineering said the company would put phase 3 out to bid within a week of getting the go-ahead. He said he expected to finish the project by the Dec. 1 deadline to allow the county to apply for another Community Development Block Grant.

• heard Keith Norwood of Curry County Detention Center say the accreditation process would take two or three years.

“We’re starting from scratch with this, and it’s going to take time,” he said.

Detention Center staff members are developing and revising policies.

• Curry County Extension Agent Stan Jones said the New Mexico Groundwater Quality Bureau couldn’t pinpoint the source of nitrate contamination in water wells west of Clovis. The New Mexico Environment Department will do preliminary testing of wells so owners know if they need further testing, he said.

Jones said it’s up to individuals to handle their own wells.

Two wells have been closed, and others are being tested, he said.

• voted to negotiate a contract with Architectural Research Consultants of Albuquerque to do architectural studies of the first floor only and the first and second floor together for the old Post Office building at 417 Gidding St.

• approved another DWI compliance officer position paid for from the DWI Collected Fees account.

• approved the change of scope of the Youth Conservation Corps grant project to include only construction of pig pens at the Curry County Fairgrounds. County Grant Coordinator Rachel Visser said she was trying to get a grant to pay for an entrance sign on Brady Street next year.

• approved a professional services agreement with S Resources Inc. for a salary and benefit analysis for a fee of no more than $9,500 plus gross receipts tax.