Securing Those At Risk
Providing safe and secure housing for 2,000 minors detained at three juvenile halls is of major importance to the employees of the Los Angeles County Probation Department. The department provides housing for minors detained at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, Calif., Los Padrino Juvenile Hall in Downey, Calif., and Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles.
County employees have long worn plastic ID cards to identify themselves within county facilities. Until recently, visitors were logged in manually using a pen-and-paper log-in sheet. Names were subsequently entered into a computer system, but there was room for improvement, according to facility managers. “It was difficult to track who was in the juvenile halls at any given time,” says Dorothy Simmons, information systems coordinator. “Anyone with a ‘County of Los Angeles’ identification card could enter the halls, and the staff at the Key Center had no way of knowing if a person had been assigned to the juvenile hall or not. It was time for a change.”
Originally, the L.A. County Probation Department’s Information Systems officers envisioned only an ID-card-issuance system to upgrade the visitor cards, but after seeing how the Fargo SecureVault 2000 ID Management System could enhance their security, the department purchased three vaults — one for each juvenile hall.
Creating new ID cards came first. In 2005, the department enhanced its security with the purchase of three Fargo DTC525-LC printers from PlastiCard, Northboro, Mass. The DTC525-LC printer is a dye-sublimation, direct-to-card printer that uses a thermal printhead to heat dyes onto a special ribbon, which diffuses them onto the surface of blank cards. The DTC525-LC prints and laminates four-color cards in one pass.
“The new ID card printing system has allowed us to speed up the process of logging in visitors as well as monitoring them within the facility,” says Portland Holmes of the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall. A bar-code on the back enables visitor cards to be scanned into a visitor management system before access to the facility is granted. “We want to be able to locate people in the juvenile halls,” Simmons says.
The county also color-codes its visitor cards so security personnel can visually distinguish among types of individuals who visit regularly: hall employees, contract staff, health services personnel, school staff, probation employees, volunteers, Sunday visitors and general visitors including family, lawyers and clergy. Although all county employees wear a plastic ID badge issued by Human Resources, they now also receive a second blue card when they visit the juvenile halls to match cards worn by hall employees.
Once the new cards were in place, emphasis shifted to providing safe and secure housing for the cards and printing equipment. The SecureVault is a secure, closed-loop inventory management system that stores and records the movement of ID cards and related production materials such as cameras, printer ribbons, lamination rolls and both blank and rejected cards. Each piece of ID card material stored in the SecureVault is registered in its inventory management system. The cabinet is controlled by a computer, and only supervisors can access the supplies, which gives the department an extra layer of security. “Now we can tell who has been in the cabinet and when supplies are low,” Simmons says. “We can also tell who used the last ribbon or took the last of the blank cards.”