The Public Safety Center is Showcased for the Public

The Winnebago County Public Safety Center got its chance in the limelight on Saturday before it gets down to the business of providing safety to area citizens in both Winnebago and Hancock Counties. The public was invited to a tour of the facility, a reception, and a presentation.

The center was approved by voters over a year ago and addresses an urgent need in both the Winnebago and Hancock County areas. For Winnebago County, it was to replace an aging jail built in 1934 that is now deemed unsafe and grossly inadequate by the Iowa State Jail Inspector. The current facility would have been shut down and prisoners would have been transferred to other counties at great taxpayer expense. With the new facility, the county will save tremendous amounts of tax dollars while receiving payments from other counties for housing their inmates.

John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants saw the project from prior to voter approval, all the way to construction completion. Hansen said that the voters got what they paid for and at a cost less than most other jails currently under construction today.

A similar sized jail in southern Iowa is currently being bonded and bid out at nearly $22 million, but the Winnebago Public Safety Center was less than $5 million.

The county went to great lengths to make sure that local consideration was given first for the construction of the facility. Hansen was impressed with the quality and efficiency of each of the local contractors used in the project.

No official move in date has been set as that will be determined by Sheriff Peterson and the state, however Hansen said that for the most part, the facility is about ready.

The facility is expected to last anywhere from 80 to 100 years if well maintained. According to Supervisor Terry Durby, this is a much needed addition to the county and the area.

Supervisor Mike Stensrud addressed the crowd that had assembled to tour the facility. He complimented everyone involved on the work involved in getting the project done.

A special plaque (pictured in our headline image) will be placed at the jail honoring not only the contractors, County Supervisors, County Auditor Karla Weiss, Sheriff Dave Peterson, and all others who were involved, but also the late Supervisor Willie Wubben who was a part of the inception of the project.

The 911 Call Center. Some computer monitors still need to be installed. From here, 911 operators can see into every cell in the facility through the windows which are mirrored for the prisoners.


This is the Search Area Room where prisoners are cavity searched if necessary.


This is the decompression room. Here inmates with tuberculosis or other respiratory problems can be taken and housed. In case of visitors for the prisoner, a video phone is on the wall for use.


The room dedicated to storage and filing of evidence and personal belingings of inmates.


This is the Male General Population Cell where 8-10 prisoners can be housed at one time.


Here, instead of prisoners meeting face to face with visitors, they will talk with them via videophone and remain in their cell. This avoids dangerous situations in moving prisoners from one location to another.
The exercise room for inmates. Inmates staying at jail will no longer have a basketball goal or other exercise amenity to use. It is simply a room with a state required open air window that can be opened or closed. The window is about ten feet high and cannot be used as a means to look outside.
The Women’s General Population Cell. Like the men, it can accommodate up to ten prisoners. Each will be issued a bedsheet, blanket, and pillow for use.
Also like the men, the women’s cell has a video phone for visitors. Only in the case of meeting with their lawyer, will a prisoner see a person other then jail personnel or inmates.
Solitary confinement for women. The men’s are exactly the same.
Deputy Steve Hepperly demonstrates the evidence filing room storage units. With a hand crank, the shelves are moved left or right for easy access. The room also serves as the weapons vault for the officers. Only Hepperly and Peterson have access to the room so as to keep evidence destruction to an absolute minimum. To the right is a locker door (dark grey at the edge of the picture) where evidence is received and processed for court hearings.
Officers desks for both jailers and deputies to work at.
The front desk of the Public Safety Center. Beyond the bullet proof window on the right is the reception area where the public can enter and visit on videophone with the prisoners.
The Deputy Sheriff’s Office for Deputy Steve Hepperly.
Sheriff Dave Peterson’s Office.





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