24 March 2016

Adventures in Bureaucracy

In Santa Clara, California, the sheriff, sick and tired of delays and costs of upgrading her jail's camera system, set up a system with about $750 of equipment purchased from Costco:
Told it would take two more years and up to $20 million to install more security cameras in Santa Clara County's troubled jails, Sheriff Laurie Smith decided Wednesday to whip out her Costco card and buy a few herself.

The cost for 12 cameras to test: $761.24 -- which Smith put on her personal American Express.

The sheriff's shopping spree came as three of her correctional officers appeared in court Wednesday on charges of beating a mentally ill inmate to death in August -- an incident that wasn't captured by the jail's existing cameras and exposed troubling surveillance gaps. Smith headed to the store after she learned that the county's plan to buy cameras through official channels could drag on for two years. She denied it was a publicity stunt.

"It's imperative we act swiftly," Smith said Wednesday after returning from her trip to the Costco on Coleman Avenue. "There cannot be a delay because of bureaucracy. That's unacceptable. Anything we can do to bring additional transparency, we want to do right away."

A county work crew was set to install them by Thursday morning in maximum-security housing pod 4A, on the fourth floor of Main Jail South.

If the Lorex high-definition 1080-pixel system is as effective as advertised at capturing details like the faces of guards and inmates, the sheriff plans to buy more to bridge the gap until the county installs a better system in 2018. She said she consulted with county building department officials before going shopping and expects to be reimbursed.
Just reimbursed?

They should crown her Queen of Santa Clara as well.


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