Harper Woods council upgrades security for city buildings

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published July 23, 2020

 The Harper Woods City Council unanimously voted to approve plans to upgrade security systems in city buildings. This will include new cameras, door locks and audio/visual equipment improvements.

The Harper Woods City Council unanimously voted to approve plans to upgrade security systems in city buildings. This will include new cameras, door locks and audio/visual equipment improvements.

Photos by Brendan Losinski

HARPER WOODS — The Harper Woods City Council voted unanimously at its meeting July 13 to approve plans to improve safety and security measures in city buildings.

The buildings will include the Harper Woods Public Library, the Harper Woods Department of Public Works building and the Harper Woods City Hall complex, which encompasses the City Hall offices, the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety and the 32-A District Court.

“The systems that are currently in place are antiquated and are difficult to have repairs made when needed, and the safety of employees is paramount when considering this purchase,” said acting City Manager John Szymanski. “We recently had mandates put out by the state of Michigan in regard to (security standards) the courts (had to follow), and we wanted to handle all of this in one purchase and not in piecemeal installations.”

“The buildings will have card access and so will our evidence rooms so we’ll know who comes in and out,” said Director of Public Safety Vincent Smith. “Our surveillance systems will add 23 high definition cameras to our current 23 high definition cameras. … We’ve added panic alarms to the court, city offices and the court offices in the basement.”

“The upgrades include employee card access to all doors, replacement of CCTV cameras at the Department of Public Works building, the (Harper Woods Public Library), and the City Hall complex with several additional cameras and an intercom system upgrade in the dispatch area, and panic alarm buttons in several areas of the court area, as well as upgrades to the audio/visual system in the interrogation room and microphones added to surveillance cameras in the lobby, courtroom and prisoner cell area,” Szymanski added.

Smith said security improvements to the buildings are long overdue.

“They will allow more updated access to the building. Our previous systems, for the 23 years I’ve been here, have barely seen any upgrades,” said Smith. “We are long overdue for this. A lot of the vendors who come in here to look at our security system aren’t familiar with it because it’s so old. In manpower hours alone, this will let people spend more time on work, since Pointe Alarm will be overseeing the system for us.”

Although some specifics are still being determined, city officials expect part of the cost of these improvements to be covered by grant money and other non-budget sources.

“Some of this cost will be defrayed by capital improvement grant money,” said Szymanski. “This will hopefully cover installation of new doors and window panels that are energy efficient. The city has budgeted $75,000 for the purchase, and we’re hoping to take the remaining $15,000 from the capital improvement bond. The total cost for the project will be $98,497.”

Szymanski went on to say that the improvements will be installed and overseen by Grosse Pointe-based Pointe Alarm due to several factors that impressed the City Council.

“We have three different bids for this project as required by the charter, and Director Smith has recommended this project be awarded to Pointe Alarm, even though they are the highest bid, due to many factors, including an offer to allow for three annual payments on this project and that they will provide us with additional maintenance and support after the complete installation of equipment, all of which the other vendors are unable to do,” he said.

Szymanski said the improvements will better protect the safety of both municipal employees and the members of the public who enter the buildings.

“This will greatly improve employee safety. It’s not aimed at the COVID situation; it’s more about general safety,” he remarked. “These improvements will ensure that not only our employees will be safer, but the public who enters any city building will be safe and protected as well.”