MANCHESTER, Iowa -- In early March, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department will move into a new office and jail located at 1225 W. Howard St. on the west end of Manchester.
With more than 18,000 square feet, the new facility will provide space for county prisoners, many of whom are currently housed in other county jails due to a lack of room in Delaware County. It will also provide state-of-the-art security features that will keep law enforcement officials, prisoners and the general public safe.
“The security and safety features will make it so much safer for jail staff as far as inmate movement," Sheriff John LeClere said. "A lot of inmates will never have to leave their housing unit, but if they do, say to go to the recreation area, jail staff can simply do that by instructing the inmate to go to the door, which can be unlocked remotely. The inmate can then walk down the hallway to the recreation room without direct contact with a jailer.”
A multi-purpose room can be used for training opportunities for deputies and also will serve as an emergency operations center. A weapons room will house deputy weapons and ammunition, along with a table to clean and examine firearms.
The workspace will include four offices, a squad room with workstations for deputies and offices for investigators. Deputies will also have a locker room with bathroom facilities and a shower.
Another room will secure storage for evidence.
A sallyport allows deputies to drive vehicles inside and transport prisoners into the booking area. There are four temporary holding cells as well as a padded detoxification room. The booking side includes rooms for prisoners to speak with attorneys.
A medical exam room is also included as well as a shower and changing room for prisoners.
The jail portion of the facility can house 42 prisoners, nearly quadrupling the capacity from the current jail. Also, a mezzanine level has expansion capabilities that could increase capacity to 66 inmates if officials choose to expand in the future.
Cells are divided into singles, doubles and swing dorms, which can house eight inmates. They are also divided into maximum security cells and general population dorms. The facility will also be able to house juveniles as well as transgender inmates.
A kitchen will allow staff to prepare meals on-site for inmates. A control room serves as a communication center for the jail.
LeClere said the current jail, which was built in 1967, isn’t big enough today.
“It was built for a sheriff and three deputies," he said. "We now have 13 deputies and a larger jail staff. ...
“There were some security things in place there but not to the degree we have in this new facility. Technology has changed so much over the years (that) it’s so much easier to secure the new building.”
County inmates now will be housed in Delaware County, something that wasn’t always possible if the jail population exceeded the capacity of 12 inmates in the old facility. LeClere estimated that already this fiscal year, Delaware County has paid $50,000 in room and board to other counties to house inmates. In addition to that is the cost of travel time and deputy time.
Supervisor Shirley Helmrichs, who has served over 22 years as a supervisor, knows the importance of the facility.
“This is huge," she said. "Our staff has always done a great job with the facility they had, but any time they had something really tragic in the county, they never had a place to go and debrief. They haven’t had offices to bring in people to help them, and I think that is a huge thing. ...
“This is no-frills. It’s very functional. ... We know they will be safe here. They are all our people, and I want them all to stay safe.”