Dallas jail fails its fifth inspection

January 18, 2008 5:29:45 PM PST
The Dallas County Jail failed its fifth consecutive state inspection, with fire safety problems topping the list of serious concerns of inspectors who briefed county officials Friday. Inspectors said they found broken fire alarms in all five jails and broken smoke detection and removal systems. They also said jail officials were unable to document whether all officers had received fire drill training.

County Commissioner John Wiley Price said he was "a little dejected" with the results, The Dallas Morning News reported Friday on its Web site.

County officials said they expected to fail the inspection. They have already ordered new fire systems that should be installed by June.

Lead inspector Shannon J. Herklotz recommended a separate fire safety division for the jails, rather than having jail fire wardens also serving as guards. Herklotz said the jail commission could remove inmates if changes aren't made quickly.

Herklotz said the jail has improved from recent inspections and commended county officials for meeting state staffing requirements and keeping the facilities clean. Sheriff Lupe Valdez has spent more than $18 million on overtime the last two years to keep the jails properly staffed. The county is in the process of hiring and training new guards.

"We understand that it's a struggle, that it's a fight," Herklotz told county officials. "I think you're on the right track."

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