City Council approves new jail security door upgrades after jail break in March

The City of Cordova is working to replace its jail security doors in the public safety building after a former inmate assaulted a police officer while escaping from the facility earlier this year.

At its Aug. 17 special meeting, the Cordova City Council authorized the City Manager Helen Howarth to negotiate a contract with CML Security for at most $99,645 to install five security doors with remote access detention locks for the jail facility. CML Security specializes in jail security systems throughout the state. 

On March 19, Cordova police allege that inmate Andrew Johnson, 35, escaped from the Cordova jail and violently attacked an officer on his way out. Johnson allegedly grabbed his personal clothes, but no weapons, after injuring the officer.

Originally booked for assaulting a police officer and violating his conditions of release the week prior, Johnson was caught by police and arrested again without incident on March 20. After his re-arrest, the 35-year-old was charged with attempted murder and multiple counts of assault and kidnapping, according to Cordova Chief of Police Andrew Goss in March.  

After the attack on the officer, the jail policy was changed so that two officers were required to be present while providing necessities, such as serving meals. The new doors will mean a single officer can more safely deliver necessities like food, and free up other staff to potentially address other public safety issues.

With these new upgrades police officers will be able to lock and unlock jail doors without entering the area the prisoners are held in. Officers will also be able to use the intercom to tell detainees to enter their cells and close the door, then the doors will automatically lock once shut.


Dispatch officers will be able to access the control module for the doors, which will also have a visual display to demonstrate compliance. With the upgrades the dispatch officers will also be able to remotely unlock the jail cell doors so that inmates can watch television, shower, or do other things outside their cells. While detainees are in their cells officers should be able to bring necessities to the cells without risk of incident.

The five jail doors will have material costs of $11,819 per door for detention equipment and installation. The installation will also cost $8,110 for electronic equipment for each door.

The City Council has proposed paying the cost of the new doors with savings from other projects. It is yet to be announced when the jail project will be completed.