Winnebago County Board gives OK for juvenile detention center upgrades

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center will soon see upgrades to both its security systems and its front lobby, but some county board members think the upgrades should wait.

It's been 26 years since the current Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center opened. Since then, its metal detector, front lobby and other security systems have been untouched. But Thursday night, the county board gave its approval to change that.

"We're hoping to make it more secure for both our employees and for visitors,” said Superintendent for the Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center William Vedra.

The Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center is looking to upgrade its front lobby and outdated security systems.

"The metal detector is located right by the door that goes into the facility and that doesn't lend itself to a lot of security,” said Vedra.

The detention center wants to improve its lobby with an enclosed secretary area, bigger lockers and an upgraded metal detector that can track newer technology from coming in, something the center has recently seen.

"Cell phones are a huge issue in our facility and so we definitely need to look at how we're going to improve,” said Vedra.

The center says it also needs to upgrade its entire security system.

"There are currently parts of the building that aren't covered completely by cameras, so we have to upgrade our camera systems so that we no longer have blind spots,” Vedra said.

The Winnebago County Board gave the go-ahead for the improvements, but some board members feel now isn't the time to make them.

"I just thought it was a little over the top - being that we're in the budget crisis that we are. That the money could be better used elsewhere,” said Winnebago County Board member Fred Wescott.

The juvenile detention center says the improvements are needed to make the building safer for both its employees and the kids housed there.

"This isn't something designed to make the place more beautiful, it's designed so that it can function and do its job,” said Vedra.

The improvements to the lobby and the security systems will cost around $300,000. The detention center says the project doesn't need new funding since the money is in its budget.