Massive $300,000-Plus Upgrade Pursued for Teller County Jail

New Control Room System May Get Installed in 2024

Trevor Phipps


As serious crimes grow in the Ute Pass /Teller County region, the need for a top-rate, detentions center for housing criminals has grown stronger.

The current facility, which is more than three decades old, has recently gone through  much-needed upgrades. Moreover, the addition of a brand new control room system is now underway.


Last year, the Teller County Commissioners answered the requests from the sheriff’s office for more funding for deputies. In addition, the board agreed to money for a new control room for the Teller jail. During a meeting last year when the announcement was made regarding the allotment of $339,000 for the detentions’ facility, one commissioner stated that the current jail control room “was being held together by duct tape and baleen wire.”


During an exclusive tour of the jail’s control room offered to TMJ News, there were not any signs of duct tape or baleen wire.  At the same time, it was evident that much of the equipment inside the room was quite old. Even though the control room still adequately serves its purpose of keeping inmates and correctional deputies safe, it was clear that some upgrades were overdue.

According to Teller County Sheriff Detentions Commander Kevin Tedesco, some of the major equipment malfunctions are making the job of the deputies more difficult.

“Sometimes the intercom systems (allowing communication between inmates and deputies) goes down, sometimes without us even knowing about it because it doesn’t give us any type of alert when it malfunctions,” Tedesco said. “The cameras go down. We almost always have some cameras that are failing out of all of the cameras in this facility. It is almost inevitable that some cameras are failing. Sometimes the door controls freeze up and will not allow us to open it. And that is a concern if we have to get into a cell or get out. Just movement within the facility is paramount.”


Currently, the control room is equipped with three separate systems that control various functions in the jail, including the cameras, door locks, televisions, lights and intercoms. Once the system is upgraded, there will be one central system to replace the three to allow for better integration between various activities and operations inside the jail.


Tedesco said that the upgrade will help the county better serve its constituents by providing a more efficient system of safety. Currently, the jail commander has to keep a budget just to maintain the old equipment in the facility. Once the facility is upgraded, it will be cheaper to operate the jail in the long-run, according to the jail commander.

The First Phase of the Upgrade Project


According to Commander Tedesco, the lengthy construction process has recently started its early stages. “So far the engineers and companies have come in and mapped out the entire facility, “Tedesco said. “They have run the schematics and the wiring. There are millions and millions of wires between the control room and the end product.”


The companies are also currently building the computer network that everything will be housed in and creating the software to operate the new system. The construction contractor for the upgrade plans to have all of the electronic components for the new system built, so that they can all be installed inside the jail at one time.


Tedesco said that once the infrastructure is finalized, the contractors will then install the new system that will operate everything inside the facility. The commander said that the construction phase is slated to take eight to 10 days and will be completed while the jail is still in operation. Tedesco said that during the construction period, the jail will switch back to their old method of operating all of the doors inside the facility with keys.


The Purpose of a Jail Control Room


The jail’s control room can best be described as the “brains, heart and soul” of a detention facility. Along with serving as a central control base for door locks, cameras and communication within the building, the control room also allows the deputies to monitor all of the jail’s common areas and traffic within the jail from its central location.


The control room consists of a large area surrounded with glass, which is tinted on the outside so that the deputies can see outside of the control room. However, with this room, the inmates can never see inside. The room also doubles as a safe room that deputies can utilize for various types of emergencies.


“This is a complete information hub,” Tedesco said inside the control room during TMJ’s exclusive tour. “So, it’s more than just cameras. Everything that moves in and outside of the facility is operated inside here. This is a safe room that cannot be access by any inmates and it is separated from their housing. The camera system is operated in here. The door control system is operating in here and all of the lighting controls and TV controls are operated in here.”


Tedesco said that most importantly, the control room serves as the prime communication hub for deputies to communicate with each other and the inmates. “We’re seeing a significant increase in mentally diminished and/or inmates affected by mental health crises,” Tedesco said.

“What that does to us is change our ability to house them in general population and it has forced us due to their mental conditions to house them separately than the other inmates. So, the only way generally speaking for us to communicate with these inmates or for them to communicate with us for their needs is to use an intercom system. So, each cell has its own intercom system where they can communicate directly with the control room.”