Douglas County sheriff seeks OK to proceed with security upgrades at jail

photo by: Journal-World File Photo

The Douglas County Jail is shown in this Journal-World file photo from February 2015.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office wants permission to move forward on a design for security upgrades at the local jail.

Sheriff Ken McGovern wrote in a memo to the Douglas County Commission that a contract with Treanor Architects for planning and design for the upgrades would cost $85,660.

He wrote that the majority of the jail’s security system was 20 years old and it would need to be replaced to maintain safety and security. He said the upgrade was discussed during an executive session on May 10, 2017.

The total cost of the project’s construction is estimated to be an additional $750,000. The contractor would be chosen through a competitive bidding process, McGovern wrote, and funding is available in the 2019 budget. The construction will come back to the commission; this week, the commission will be voting only on the design costs.

McGovern wrote that using Treanor for the design would “ensure a seamless integration with any possible future expansion.”

That request is on the commission’s consent agenda, meaning it will be considered in one motion with several other items, unless a commissioner or member of the public requests discussion of a specific item.

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In other business, commissioners will consider allowing changes to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s bylaws.

According to a memo from Robert Bieniecki, criminal justice coordinator, the proposed changes include removing goals from the bylaws and inserting a statement to create a strategic plan; increasing members and implementing term limits; and eliminating the vice chair position.

The membership changes would remove the Lawrence city manager and add the Baldwin City, Eudora and University of Kansas police chiefs; currently, only the Lawrence police chief is a member. It would also add the county director of behavioral health projects and “one former consumer of the criminal justice system,” who would be nominated by the county jail’s director of re-entry.

The Douglas County Commission will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Complete agenda materials are available online at, and an audio recording of the meeting will be available on the site afterward.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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