GREAT FALLS – The Cascade County Commission approved funding Friday for critical repairs to the Cascade County Detention Center during an emergency special commission meeting.
Cascade County Undersheriff Cory Reeves told commissioners the control panel, which controls the jail’s locks, is malfunctioning.
Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said he and Reeves were aware of the problem when they took office.
According to Slaughter, they learned Cascade County Public Works was not allowed into the detention center to do any preventive work.
“We knew they needed to be replaced. We did not know exactly in what timeframe so we had people coming up to the facility, contractors who do this type of work, and it came to a critical head just recently. We had to get these funds to fix this matter immediately,” Slaughter said.
Slaughter and Reeves put together a capital improvement list and the electronic control system was at the top.
They said they worked quickly to open bids for repairs once they learned the panel was severely malfunctioning.
The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office has received bids from Corvinus for $502,100 and Security Automation Systems for $550,000. Both companies asked for at least an extra $80,000 for unexpected costs during repairs.
Reeves added that while looking into the problems, they discovered the jail’s surveillance system, HIKVISION, also needed replaced due to a law signed in August of 2018.
“The problem with HIKVISION is it is made by the Chinese and they put a back door into that software. The U.S. government was using it so in August of 2018 they banned HIKVISION,” Reeves said.
Due to the issue with HIKVISION, the detention center must replace 15 to 20 DVRs.
Commissioners approved the bid for Corvinus to upgrade the Security Electronics Controls System. The $502,100 and the extra $80,000 will come out of the current fiscal year’s budget.
Corvinus owner Martin Morris will be in Great Falls next week to start trouble shooting the issues.
Reporting by Margaret DeMarco for MTN News