ROCKLAND, Maine—Top brass at Knox County Jail, located here, recently contracted with security industry leader Norris, Inc. Norris cured what has become an all-too familiar corrections headache for jail administrators—aged and failing proprietary systems that are expensive, if not impossible, to service.

“The existing door control system simply wasn’t working anymore,” said KCJ Facility Administrator Major John Hinkley. The failure wasn’t just inconvenient for staff, he noted. “It had become a real safety and security issue.”

Norris responded to a request for proposals from the facility and entered a competitive bidding scenario. Three other security providers submitted bids. One competitor eventually dropped out, leaving just three contestants. Norris was eventually selected for a variety of reasons.

Go with the quality you know!

Facility Administrator Major John Hinkley

Facility Administrator Major John Hinkley

“Norris has done our fire alarms here since forever,” Major Hinkley said. Most importantly, Hinkley, noted Norris brought a known quantity of quality to the table. “Norris has always done a great job. Any time we’ve needed something or had questions, they were right here working with us.”

The KCJ systems control project (Norris is handling control of door, utilities, intercom and surveillance systems through its programmable logic control system) was conducted over the course of six months. Firstly, Norris had to do some homework. The first month was devoted to onsite investigation and data gathering. Norris needed the intense research to be sure it had a full understanding of what was in place.

A programmable logic control, or PLC, is an industrial-grade solid-state computer that monitors inputs and outputs and can survive harsh conditions including temperature extremes, dust, and extreme moisture. One can program a PLC to affect many different outcomes across various systems.

Norris speaks the corrections language

Norris’ Schyler Gagnon—a former Corrections Officer at Androscoggin County Jail, himself—was the system Design Engineer and Project Manager for the half a million-dollar upgrade. The project was sold to KCJ by Norris Systems Integrator for Northern Maine, Jim Allmon.

“It’s very robust,” Gagnon said. “And it just works. It’s because of that, that jails and prisons use PLCs.”

Norris Security Pro Gagnon conducts training

Schyler Gagnon was PM and design engineer for the KCJ systems control project

Norris helps corrections avoid the proprietary pitfall

Asked to describe the proprietary system KCJ had in place when Norris got the job, Gagnon shook his head.

“What they had was pretty awful,” Gagnon said, “We pulled out a proprietary PLC system that no one else could work on except the manufacturer of the system, a company based in Alabama.” Gagnon noted the system and associated control screens he designed and put in place simplified operations. “I was able to take them from about 13 different control screens to three.”

Gagnon said that many jails in Maine are in the same boat KCJ was in.

“In the 80’s all these jails were built, and this one integrator had a stranglehold on the corrections vertical,” he explained. “They put in all these proprietary systems. When they age, no one can work on them except the manufacturer. It’s maybe around $5,000 just to put someone on a plane and fly them up here to troubleshoot.”

Norris makes it easier for corrections to do its job

Norris' system controls doors, utilities, intercom and cameras

CO Gilman controls the facility with the help of a Norris Systems Control upgrade

Daily users of the new facility-wide deployment agree Norris’ solution is a vast improvement.

“What we had before was a dinosaur. I mean, archeologists could have done studies on it,” said corrections officer Steve Gilman as he answered calls from other officers around the facility, released and locked doors, and surveilled and interacted with inmates over the surveillance and intercom systems. Gilman said the new system is much more user friendly and intuitive and offers a wider spectrum of control with less time and effort expended.

Extensive onsite support & training for corrections personnel

Gagnon was onsite, along with Norris Remote Services Department head John Wolfe, on March 8, 2018 to hand over closeout documents—user manuals written by Gagnon, schematics, as-builts, etc.—and to perform system training and tweaks, per customer feedback. Gagnon led a 1-hour training session for a roomful of corrections officers.

Major Hinkley has been KCJ’s Facility Administrator for 14 years and has seen a lot during that time. Asked if he was satisfied with the outcome of Norris’ work, the Major didn’t hesitate.

“We’re very pleased with the work they’ve done,” Major Hinkley said. “We’ve recommended them to others several times already.”

Security Industry leader Norris has your corrections solution

Corrections is just one of the many verticals, in which Norris excels. If you’re interested in having a member of the Norris team do a free life-safety and security evaluation and quote for your commercial, industrial, educational or municipal enterprise, please call or email today so we can start serving your needs.

The KCJ facility came online as a Maine county jail in 1991. It is certified to house 70 male and/or female inmates in a mix of minimum-, medium- and maximum-security options.

Norris, Inc.—a South Portland, Maine, based life-safety and security systems integrator with satellite offices in Bangor, Maine; Lee, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont—was founded nearly 40 years ago by two brothers, Brad and Harty Norris. The brothers remain on the board of directors today and continue to help steer the enterprise toward its goal of advancing security, life safety and communications while striving to grow in its status as Northern New England’s leading systems integrator. Norris provides fully integrated life-safety and security solutions, including fire alarm systems, intrusion detection systems, access control systems, video surveillance systems, emergency Notification systems and communications systems.[/fusion_text]