Union County Jail's security system to be upgraded

·2 min read

Sep. 16—LA GRANDE — The Union County Jail will soon receive a much-needed technological upgrade, getting a boost to the facility's security system, something that is badly needed, according to Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen.

"We need to make upgrades because there are safety issues," the sheriff said.

Work that will be done as part of the project includes installing three additional touchscreens and intercoms, new jail hardware such as doors and locks, the repair and maintenance of locks that are not being replaced and general electronics upgrades. Work will also be completed in other portions of the Union County Community Corrections building where the jail is located, including its 911 dispatch center.

One of the big pluses of the work is that it will allow for electronic doors throughout the jail to be opened and locked with fewer problems, which is critical in emergencies such as a fire, Bowen noted.

The sheriff also said having a more reliable system will be particularly helpful after hours when there are fewer staff in the law enforcement building, which also houses the Union County Sheriff's Office and the La Grande Police Department.

The total cost of the upgrades will be $266,723, provided by federal COVID-19 relief funds Union County received.

La Grande Police Chief Gary Bell said the money will be well spent.

"It is fantastic that the sheriff's office will be able to upgrade an antiquated security system. These improvements will enhance public safety in the community," he said.

Union County Commissioner Matt Scarfo also is a big supporter of the project.

"We want to keep the jail operating and functional," he said. "Anything to do with the jail is important."

The upgrade work will be done by Corrections Technology Group, a specialty contractor out of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, that provides detention and corrections services. Corrections Technology Group was awarded the bid Thursday, Sept. 15, by the Union County Board of Commissioners.

Dick Mason is a reporter with The Observer. Contact him at 541-624-6016 or dmason@lagrandeobserver.com.