In most prisons, when inmates require medical attention they either have to wait for a doctor to be summoned to the facility or be taken to a nearby hospital accompanied by a corrections officer. Those scenarios can be problematic for two reasons. One, it can be fairly costly, and two, transferring a felon who has been convicted of serious crimes via open roads poses potential danger to the public.
Bergen County (N.J.) Sheriff Leo P. McGuire foresaw this issue when he took office in 2005. In an effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency, he conceived an idea to construct a prison block for mentally and physcially ill inmates within the Bergen Regional Medical Center. Today, the unit is believed to be the first of its kind.
“The idea to restructure the unit within [the facility] realizes tremendous efficiencies in county and hospital resources, which enhances our ability to provide an adequate level of patient care while ensuring our ability to be as cost effective as possible,” says McGuire. “In fact, this unit is slated to save our taxpayers millions of dollars in the long-term and will pay for itself in just a few years.”
Hospital visitors needn’t worry that they are in danger though. The 7,000-square-foot Bergen Regional Medical Center Forensics D-1 unit, which was renovated in 2008, is carefully hidden and maintained by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department. Designed for maximum security and abuse resistance, the facility is reinforced by concrete block walls and heavy-duty metal ceilings. Only those with access into the facility are aware that it even exists.
In addition to 11 secured-door cells, the medical and psychiatric treatment areas are monitored and controlled by a central nursing station and a security control room. The facility also features forensic rooms, seclusion rooms and a staff lounge. Having the correctional facility within the hospital grounds, of course, places greater responsibility on the sheriff’s office and hospital officials to protect civilians. Thus, an extremely secure IP-based security system was necessary to ensure the highest level of security in the unit.
However, there was a catch for anyone taking on the project - the system needed to be designed and installed within 90 days. Who would be willing to take on such a huge undertaking? Clifton, N.J.-based T&R Alarms rose to the challenge.
Not the Lowest, but the Best Bid
Founded 39 years ago, T&R Alarms has satellite offices in New York City and Branchville, N.J., and is considered to be one of the largest alarm companies in the Tri-State area. Specializing in fire, security and surveillance systems, the company designs and installs solutions to meet the needs of customers that include hotels, schools, hospitals and prisons.
With a total of 48 employees, T&R Alarms has roughly 1,000 active accounts and books more than $8 million dollars annually on projects.
Currently working on a venture at the infamous Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York, the integrator has plenty of experience installing security systems in prisons. Having already provided solutions to some 25 correctional facilities, it appeared the Bergen County project would be a perfect fit for T&R Alarms.
“There really aren’t that many people in the country [that install security solutions in prisons],” says T&R Alarms President and Co-Founder Tom Sansone Sr. “It’s a niche industry, and you really have to know what you’re doing.”
And yet, the opportunity almost slipped by the integrator. Though the bid for the venture was made public, Sansone and his team didn’t see the advertisement, until an electrician came to the company looking for a price on the project. After discussing what needed to be done and the potential legwork the project required, the electrician soon realized he may have been getting in over his head. It was then that Sansone placed his bid.
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