Rice County Sheriff Says New Jail/LEC Right Decision
Troy Dunn, shared his views about the recent decision by the County Board of Commissioners to build a $49.2 million Jail and Law Enforcement Center on new property.
The vote was 3-2 on May 11 to go forward with what the committee that studied the options recommended. Dunn was part of that committee.
During a visit on our KDHL AM Minnesota program Friday, May 21, 2021 Dunn said the 49.2 million dollar new facility was "long overdue."
"We're happy to have a place that we're moving forward now and getting into the next phases of finding a location and starting the engineering."
Dunn confirmed this is his final term as Sheriff which means the facility will be completed after he leaves office. He says there was considerable debate.
"We started out with three options and ended up with six options in the end. In the last portion (of the debate) they really wanted us to look at cooperating with Steele County by merging with them. Which on the surface makes some sense. There could be cost savings there but when you think of everything else down the road, the extra travel time for the deputies, police officers from Northfield, Lonsdale, Faribault to and from the jail bringing them back for hearings if we can't continue to do Zoom hearings."
Dunn added, "Prior to COVID we couldn't do ZOOM hearings for a lot of this stuff. So we're picking people up all over the state and even in North and South Dakota and Iowa to bring them back for hearings. I'm really happy with the work we did and appreciate all the time that the commissioners put into this to make this decision."
"I truly believe this was the best option for Rice County and it's citizens."
There were options that had the Jail separate from the LEC but the Sheriff said he encourged all along the two be together. If the jail needs assistance (and the two are in different locations) you're waiting for a squad to come. If they are in the same facility we can respond right away which could save injuries and stuff."
"The present Jail/LEC construction was started in 1972 with the opening in 1975. At that time there were 15 jail staff and 22 or 23 deputies. When I was elected Sheriff in 2010 and started in 2011 we still had 23 deputies and we added a couple correctional officers. That building was meant to meet the needs for 20 or 30 years and we're getting about 50 years out of it."
Dunn told KDHL the county is looking at greenspace west and north of Faribault. The next order of business will be to purchase the property. The current Jail Annex will be turned back over to the United States Department of Defense.
The Rice County Sheriff wants to include a K9 training area on the new property and says it will include more storage room. He envisions a Mental Health Unit and pointed out when he started working at the jail in 1989 there were two programs offered to the jail population. Currently 34 programs are available but Rice County can't offer them due to lack of space.
The new jail will be built to house 76 inmates. Before COVID Dunn told us the average was around 61 per day.
You can listen to the podcast of the entire AM Minnesota program with Sheriff Dunn below.
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