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Platte County looking for options to add beds to detention center

The Platte County Detention Center’s 153 beds are at times inadequate to meet the demand to house inmates, so the county commission hired an architectural firm to study the situation.

On June 15, the commission decided to award a contract to Treanor Architects to look at how many additional beds could fit into an unfinished area of the center’s basement. The study also would assess how many additional beds, if any, the county needs and provide a cost analysis about the center, at 415 Third Street in Platte City.

The study will cost $56,350, said Andy Pitts, principal architect for Treanor Architects, a Kansas City-based firm.

Cpt. Erik Holland of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department says his team has encountered times when the need for beds has surpassed the number available.

“This will give us information so the county can make decisions going forward in the future,” he said. “No commitment has been made to build anything.”

He said the county does not know how much an expansion would cost because it is in the research stage of the process.

Treanor said the study will be completed by late summer or early fall.

According to the sheriff’s office website, the current facility was opened in 1998 as part of the Tom Thomas Law Enforcement Center. The building includes a detention area as well as space for staff responsible for security of the jail, the government complex, the courthouse and the Circuit Court judges when they are in session. There is also a juvenile annex.

Most inmates are pre-trial detainees arrested for state-level offenses, Holland said. Some either choose not to post or cannot post bond.

Some of the inmates are people who committed misdemeanors sentenced by municipal court to county jail, he said.

Beverlee Roper, County Commissioner for the 1st District, said in the mid-1990s voters approved an increase in the sales tax to fund construction of the jail. The tax hike, which has since lapsed, included a promise to provide space for an additional 96 beds for inmates in “an area called futures.”

Roper said the money to finish the additional area for the beds was to come out of the county’s general budget.

She said the plumbing and the walls for the space were constructed when the building was first built.

Holland said about a year ago, the county hired Goldberg Group Architects, a firm based in St. Joseph, to conduct a similar study.

“There was a level of discomfort with some of the figures” in the study so the commission decided to take a second look, he said, adding he was not part of the jail committee that discussed the study.

Roper said she agrees with Holland’s statement about some of the figures in the first study.

She said the county is also looking at possibly instituting a new pre-trial detention policy that has attracted national attention. The plan would make it possible for the county to house fewer pre-trial detainees through alternative methods.

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