Firm connects security camera system to deputy warden's office

WILKES-BARRE – The firm that installed new security cameras at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility has connected the system to a deputy warden’s office, resolving concerns raised last week by prison management.

Warden Gene Fischi said a technician from Simplex-Grinell of Olyphant worked on the system Monday and Tuesday. The company performed the work at no additional charge to the county.

Simplex-Grinell recently installed about 50 additional interior and exterior cameras at the facility as part of security improvements ordered following the October 2003 escape of inmate Hugo Selenski.

At the April 18 prison board meeting, Fischi said the cameras have significantly increased security, but he was concerned because the system had not yet been hooked up to Deputy Warden Sam Hyder’s computer. The connection is necessary to allow Hyder to monitor inmates and guards.

The connection was supposed to be done by a prison employee, who resigned before completing the job. Fischi said Simplex-Grinell initially refused to make the connection, saying it was not part of the contract.

“We weren’t getting any satisfaction. That’s why I brought it to the up at the board meeting in hopes of getting something accomplished,” Fischi said.

Richard Dumbach, an official with Simplex-Grinell, said Tuesday the issue was a misunderstanding.

“My technician was working with the man who resigned who was going to take care of that part of the project. When he (the technician) was requested to the work, he said he needed to check with the office before he could proceed,” Dumbach said.

Fischi said the connection to Hyder’s computer will enable him to more easily monitor activity of prisoners, as well as guards.

The work ethic of guards was severely criticized by state inspectors in 2003. Those same inspectors noted significant improvement the following year. Fischi said the majority of guards continue to do a good job. The increased monitoring will ensure it stays that way.

“The intention is for security and to make sure the individuals responsible for security are doing their jobs,” he said.

The connection will also allow Hyder to easily retrieve images caught by the cameras at a given time in the day, which will be useful for investigative purposes if there is an incident on a floor.

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