Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said he’d like to have security cameras in the Brown County Jail’s cells. Grubbs said such a system would be an expensive item for which funds are not currently available.
“We don’t have cameras in the cells at this point. If funding were available, it would be a good security measure,” Grubbs said.
A system would cost $150,000 to $200,000, Grubbs estimated. He said he has discussed the topic with the commissioners court. He said he thinks commissioners understand the benefit but “the cost is a heavy factor.”
Commissioner Richard Gist said buying a system “certainly would have an impact on the budget.”
“If the sheriff believes it’s justified, I’m sure the court would look at it,” Gist said, adding it would be a matter of determining priorities.
Grubbs said camera security system would allow jailers to monitor activities in the cells — with privacy areas blacked out — and sheriff’s officials could review tapes if an incident such as an assault occurred.
If something happened in the blacked-out privacy areas, the block could be removed after the incident and officials could see what had transpired in that area, Grubbs said. He said he and possibly the chief deputy would be the only people with the capability to removed a block.
“It would be a safeguard for our people and the inmates both, really,” Grubbs said. “It’s not a fail-safe program but it’s another preventative measure. This is something that would benefit us security-wise and liability-wise.”
If cameras had been in cells, investigators could see what happened in a cell where an 18-year-old man recently alleged he was sexually assaulted by other inmates, Grubbs said. Investigators have not been able to substantiate that the assault happened, he said earlier.
“Inmates have always got a complaint of some kind,” Grubbs said. “Assaults do occur in jail — not just our jail. The people we’ve got back there are capable of violence — some of them.
“We do (inmate) classification. We try to limit exposure. We try to limit this as much as we can. Fights do occur back in the jail — not on a routine basis, but they’re there.
“We’re charged with the safety of these people back there and we’re goin to do our best to protect them. That’s why we segregate some people who are apt to be assaulted.”
Cameras in cells would also be useful in investigating incidents such as the recent discovery of a small amount marijuana in one of the cells, Grubbs said.
Sheriff’s officials haven’t yet determined how a small amount of marijuana got into the cell.
A deputy discovered the marijuana during a shakedown on April 24, and the Early Police Department’s drug dog alerted on marijuana in another area of the cell, Grubbs said earlier.
Some of the marijuana appears to have been smoked, he said.