I wanted to share some wonderful news that impacts all of us here in Sandoval County.

The Sandoval County Detention Center (SCDC) just received accreditation from the Adult Detention Professional Standards Council. This on-site assessment was conducted to verify compliance with program standards.

Program standards cover administration, physical plant, safety/sanitation, security control, medical/mental health and inmate programs. Without this accreditation, we as the taxpayers in Sandoval County would be paying more for SCDC.

This accomplishment did not come about by chance. Four years ago, it came to light that prior administrations had failed to keep up with basic maintenance and upkeep of the facility.

The detention center had fallen into a state of disrepair that seemed to rival a third-world facility. Water leaks corroded metal and were eroding parts of the building where plumbing ran.

In addition, 117 of the 240 cell doors were incapable of closing and locking. In addition to repairs, SCDC needed to install cameras to eliminate any “dead zones” in the visual surveillance system and improve perimeter fencing.

These fixes improved the safety for everyone at SCDC. Unfortunately, these changes came about in response to two inmate escapes within a short time period.

The commission at that time rightfully approved a 1/16 percent increase of gross receipts tax to be dedicated to repaying a $5 million loan needed to bring SCDC out of a serious state of disrepair.

At that time, it was decided that to ensure SCDC would operate in a professional manner, the county should seek to become accredited through the state.

The reward for becoming accredited is a financial impact on the county.

Michael Meek

For starters, there is a 5 percent decrease in insurance premiums. These premiums, which had previously covered costs of claims up to $2 million, now cover claims up to $5 million.

Prior to the accreditation, the county was at risk of paying claims out of the general fund budget, which would have impacted other county services. With the reconstruction and meeting accreditation standards, the potential of claims is significantly reduced.

This is just one example of how our commission is ensuring the county is held to the highest accepted standards.

Prior business decisions have resulted in the county being exposed to litigation. Several contracts have been found to be non-conforming to state regulations that existed at the time of implementation.

We cannot be embarrassed by past errors and must confront each situation head on. This is not an easy process, but we are fortunate that for the past four years, the commission has been dedicated to being better, more fiscally responsible and ensuring others do not have to clean up a mess we made.

Our current commission does not cast individual blame on others; we only seek to correct past errors so we may move forward as the fastest-growing county in the state.
There is more success to follow.

(Michael Meek represents District 3 on the Sandoval County Commission. He was elected in 2018.)