County commissioners approve hi-tech cameras for juvenile detention facility

State-of-the-art surveillance cameras are coming soon to the Grays Harbor Juvenile Detention Facility in East Aberdeen.

At a workshop Monday morning, county commissioners unanimously approved entering an $81,649 — plus tax — contract with Absco Solutions of Lynnwood to install the cameras at the Junction City Road facility.

Mark Cox, county director of utilities and facilities, said the system would cover the interior and exterior of the facility with enough cameras to monitor classrooms, hallways, offices and more.

“It records your face as you come in,” he told the commissioners. “Then it will be able to pick you up again wherever you go.”

District 3 Commissioner Vickie Raines asked if the camera system was removable. Because of the location of the detention center on the Chehalis River, she was concerned about losing the expensive equipment in a flood event.

“Yes,” said Cox. “It would be very easy” to move the cameras to higher ground in such an event.

Cox acknowledged the seemingly high cost of the system but said the investment would be worth it.

“It is a substantial investment,” he said, “but I think it makes a lot of sense to have cameras in the facility, and the right cameras.”

Raines agreed.

“I’d like to get this started,” she said, mentioning that cameras could protect the facility against potential lawsuits while also making the facility safer for residents and employees.

Cox said the system is not only monitored in-house, it can be monitored from elsewhere. The server that ties the system together can store images for 30 days, longer if told to do so, he added. An example of when holding onto images beyond 30 days would be in the case of a “litigation hold,” where parties in any legal action dealing with the facility can request that footage be preserved for potential legal proceedings.

Raines moved that the county enter into the contract to get the process started as soon as possible, and commissioners Randy Ross and Wes Cormier approved.

Funding for the system would be provided primarily from the Juvenile Department, with additional money from Facilities Capital funds and other options the commissioners asked Cox to explore.

When asked by the commissioners if the cost in Absco Solution’s proposal was set in stone, Cox replied no, and it could even come down as the actual number of cameras to be installed is adjusted. Some of the proposed camera locations could be considered “sensitive locations,” he said, and may be removed from the initial proposal.