Jail Passes Compliance Inspection

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LAPD: Goal for detention facility is operational excellence

By Carol A. Clark

Very good, neat and very clean is how councilors Fran Berting, Geoff Rodgers and Mike Wismer described the Los Alamos County Detention Facility during a Nov. 18 inspection.

Acting Detention Supervisor Jesse Ortega and Los Alamos Police Capt. Randy Foster accompanied the councilors on the tour of the jail, which was remodeled two years ago.

Ortega has been in charge of the jail since Detention Supervisor Mary Najar retired in October.

“I’ve also worked at jails in Santa Fe and Española and I love working at the Los Alamos jail,” Ortega said. “For one thing you’re closer to the staff and also this jail has more cameras and more controls.”

The contingent of county councilors visited the male and female housing areas, showers, inmate booking area, exercise room, natural light recreation area, juvenile housing cells, master control area and support service areas.

Berting gave high marks to all areas of the facility but noted that the women’s section was a “bit muggy after someone had showered.”

Rodgers and Wismer also gave the jail top marks but Rodgers noted in his inspection report that he detected a “dank smell” in the women’s section.

Rodgers also noted in his report that the library lighting needed improvement.

“We had a consultant come in and conduct a lighting study in the jail and he agreed with our impression that the library and a couple of other spots could use three or four more lights,” Foster said, adding that the issue is being addressed.

In accordance with state law, the inspection focused on the cleanliness and discipline of the facility. At the conclusion of their tour, the councilors prepared inspection reports to present to the Los Alamos County Council as a whole, rating the facility on the following criteria:
• Overall appearance and housekeeping
• Aisles, passageways and floors
• Lighting
• Ventilation
• Exposed floor
•Electrical and telephone wires
• Disposal of trash and waste
• Office furnishings
• General building condition
• Personal cleanliness of the prisoners
• Appropriate level of discipline, and
• Knowledge of detention staff on policy and procedures in response to questions asked.  

Council reviewed the inspection reports at its Dec, 20 meeting and authorized Council Chair Sharon Stover, as required by law, to send a letter to First Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Pfeffer confirming that the Los Alamos County Detention Facility was found to be clean and orderly. Also, the prisoners appeared to be properly cared for, the detention facility staff was knowledgeable of operating policies and procedures and no violations of law were observed during the inspection.

“My expectation is that we would do nothing less than pass these inspections … We have a state of the art facility and we have outstanding staff who make sure that happens,” Police Chief Wayne Torpy said.