Corrections personnel manage the Avigilon high-definition surveillance solution using the Avigilon Control Center network video management software (NVMS) with High-Definition Stream Management (HDSM) technology. The Department has installed 110 Avigilon HD cameras ranging from 5 MP to 16 MP, including Panoramic 180 and 360 IP dome cameras with audio recording, in each housing module, secure hallways, main parking lot, and entrances and installed 79 Avigilon analog video encoders to improve the performance and manageability of its existing analog cameras. The Shawnee County Department of Corrections (SNDOC) monitors the system around-the-clock and stores 30 days of continuous surveillance video on six Avigilon Network Video Recorders (NVRs). The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system has also been integrated into the Department’s electronic security system.

Incident Management

Leveraging the image clarity, advanced search capabilities, and audio functionality of the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system, the Department can now resolve incidents faster and more accurately than before, dramatically enhancing inmate and staff safety, improving inmate conduct, and boosting staff productivity. The SNDOC has also tripled the number of cases it has been able to send to the District Attorney’s Office, all of which have led to successful prosecution. The Department has also realized a notable cost savings by reducing the number of false liability claims filed by inmates. The SNDOC can resolve staff-related issues more efficiently—saving time, boosting management credibility, and enhancing employee performance.

As a nationally recognized correctional agency, SNDOC in Topeka, Kansas is mandated to ensure that adult and juvenile inmates in its custody remain safe and secure until released to the community. By embracing new solutions that promote accountability, respect, and cooperation, the SNDOC has become a model correctional facility in North America. Most recently, the Department has deployed the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system as a strategic correctional management tool to ensure onsite security, expedite investigations, and ultimately, improve inmate conduct.

Video Surveillance Evidence

“Because we didn’t have a reliable and functional system of recording and searching, our investigations were at best crippled and in most instances, utterly worthless”

Located near the city center, the SNDOC spans a two-by-one city block and includes an adult detention center, juvenile detention center, and a community corrections facility. With more than 500 inmates detained at any time, a team of 281 employees is tasked with ensuring their proper conduct and safety.

However, the Department deals with more than 300 incidents of inmate misconduct each year including assault, theft, vandalism, and fraud. Unfortunately, with its previous analog-based surveillance system, the SNDOC was unable to deliver the video evidence needed to successfully investigate and prosecute most of these cases. “We were suffering from a lack of hard evidence,” said Captain Timothy Phelps. “We would spend hours trying to track down events that should have been easily identified, but because we didn’t have a reliable and functional system of recording and searching, our investigations were at best crippled and in most instances, utterly worthless.”

Integration With Electronic Security System

Upon the recommendation of Sound Products Inc., a local provider of surveillance system design, installation, and service, the SNDOC installed the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system to improve image clarity, performance, and manageability.

The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system was also integrated into the Department’s electronic security system that controls access at secure entrances for those who do not have access control cards. “If an individual pushes a button to request access to our building, the electronic security system instantly connects to the Avigilon system so that staff can grant or deny access based on proper identification,” explained Captain Phelps.

“The real value of the Avigilon solution is in its software,” said Captain Phelps, who claims that video footage that used to take investigators hours or days to find can now be identified within minutes. “I am continually amazed by how intuitive and efficient the Avigilon Control Center software is.” Captain Phelps explained that his investigators do not want to use any other system and added “other systems seem clunky and archaic compared to Avigilon’s fluidity and advanced manageability.”

Improving Inmate And Staff Safety

Leveraging the advanced features of Avigilon Control Center software, the Department can resolve incidents much faster than before, dramatically improving both inmate and staff safety. “In a crisis situation where many officers are deployed, I can review the video in real-time to determine who needs to be sent to segregation right away, ensuring the safety of others,” noted Captain Phelps. “We used to have to rely on our memory, but now we can immediately and accurately make the call.”

“With the Avigilon HD 16 MP camera, we can read a car’s license plate, make, model, and vehicle identification number because of its ability to zoom in so tightly”

Avigilon’s image clarity and zooming capabilities have also become extremely valuable, especially when investigating outdoor incidents. “The ability to capture all license plates was a key requirement for us,” said Captain Phelps. “With the Avigilon HD 16 MP camera, we can read a car’s license plate, make, model, and vehicle identification number because of its ability to zoom in so tightly.”

Improved Performance And Manageability

“When Avigilon first came in to demonstrate its surveillance solution, I did not believe that it could deliver the advanced functionality that the sales team claimed it could,” concluded Captain Phelps. But once the system was up and running, Captain Phelps quickly realized that Avigilon could address all of his needs and more. “It’s my job to find new and better ways to collect the information needed to make quick and accurate decisions that enhance the safety and security of inmates and staff. I am convinced that with Avigilon, we will continue to stay ahead of the curve.”

With the ability to resolve incidents much faster and with greater accuracy, the SNDOC has noticed a marked improvement in inmate behavior. “Inmates know that we can identify if they are telling the truth or not, which has cut down the number of games they try to play,” explained Captain Phelps. The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system has also increased Captain Phelps’ credibility amongst the corrections officers. “With the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system, I don’t have to spend months or years defending a disciplinary decision I made because it will have been made based on solid evidence that simply cannot be disputed.” And because the Avigilon high-definition surveillance solution is so much more efficient than his previous system, Captain Phelps can refocus his team on other important security-related tasks.

Efficient Investigations

The SNDOC has also improved its track record with the District Attorney’s Office, who has noticed a significant improvement in the quality of evidence delivered. “We have seen a dramatic change in reception from the DA’s office now that we have the Avigilon solution,” Captain Phelps noted. “We’ve easily tripled the number of cases we have sent for prosecution and they have all been successful.”

The Avigilon high-definition surveillance solution has also resulted in a notable cost savings for the Department, which has reduced the number of false liability claims filed by inmates. “While it is difficult to quantify exactly how much these claims cost us before, we know that we lose money every time we have to deal with frivolous claims,” said Captain Phelps. “The real value is that we can now efficiently investigate these incidents with amazing accuracy within minutes using Avigilon Control Center software, which in turn has drastically reduced the number of false claims being filed.”

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