“Dead zone” inside $20 million Colonial Heights courthouse - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

“Dead zone” inside $20 million Colonial Heights courthouse

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) -

Behind feet of cinder block walls and a series of steel doors, a radio dead zone makes reliable communication impossible, a risk for deputies moving inmates through the jail of the new Colonial Heights Courthouse.

Engineers anticipated the possibility of the current communications problem, but could not confirm whether money needed to be spent on a stronger radio signal. In an interview Friday, Colonial Heights Sheriff Todd B. Wilson said the problem has made deputies operate with extra precautionary measures.

"Since we may not be able to always communicate with our radios, we bring in extra manpower to move inmates," Wilson said. "That means each deputy is never out of the line of sight of a fellow deputy."

Wilson described the entire facility as part of the well known "can you hear me now" commercials for Verizon Wireless. Often, radios can reach law enforcement officers who are outside the building, but not deputies inside the Courthouse the jail command center.

The Colonial Heights City Council voted to pay for a $36,000 radio communications booster, and $16,000 will be moved within the Sheriff's budget to resolve an issue with part of the jail's intercom system.

The radio booster will be purchased and installed this fiscal year.

The jail held 80 inmates this week, and is equipped with 12 cells. The old courthouse on Temple Ave. had a significantly smaller capacity for inmates, with four jail cells.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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