SUNBURY - Northumberland County Prison Board agreed Wednesday to purchase eight additional security cameras and related equipment totaling approximately $8,500.

Warden Roy Johnson thanked the board for approving the purchase of the equipment that will enhance security at the prison while eliminating liability concerns involving proper surveillance.

He said the new cameras will have more clarity and color and provide better coverage than the ones they will replace.

The $8,529.25 purchase from Keystone Communications in Northumberland includes eight cameras with a total value of $3,929.25, an $825 external storage unit, a $445 port switch to power the cameras, $450 in miscellaneous items and $2,880 for the installation and optimization of eight cameras into the existing camera system.

"I believe this is the most cost-effective way to purchase the cameras," Johnson said. "It's critical that we replace these cameras over the years as needed, especially in special places in the prison that require more surveillance."

Johnson said money is budgeted for the purchase, which was previously denied a few times.

The warden said Keystone Communications has provided excellent service to the prison in the past and its pricing is very competitive.

The purchase was approved subject to review of the bidding requirements for the cameras.

Keystone Communications, which also submitted a $71,158.25 proposal for 51 security cameras and related equipment, was the lone bidder for the work.

Prison board members approving the purchase were Commissioner Richard Shoch, District Attorney Tony Rosini, Sheriff Robert Wolfe and Controller Chris Grayson. Commissioner Stephen Bridy was in attendance for most of the session, but had to leave prior to the vote to attend another meeting. Commissioner Vinny Clausi was absent.

Chairman election

The election of a new chairman was tabled until all board members were present.

Shoch, who has been in charge of prison board issues and conducting meetings for the past five months, recommended Rosini for the post because of his vast experience on the board and offered his full cooperation if the district attorney accepted the position. Shoch, who serves as vice chairman, said he was tired of the chairmanship being an issue, noting that the board failed to fill the position in March despite several members being nominated for the post.

"I think Mr. Rosini would provide good leadership. He has more experience on the board than anyone," Shoch said.

Rosini said he will consider the position, but said he would delegate a lot of the chairman's duties to other board members if he accepts the post because of his heavy workload as district attorney.

Other business

Earlier in the meeting, Rosini pointed out that 29 percent of the inmates in April were on psychotropic medications. Denise Gemzik Jeniola, regional manager for Prime Care Medical Inc., Harrisburg, which provides medical services to county inmates, said 26 to 29 percent of inmates throughout the state are on psychotropic medications when they enter jail.

Rosini and Jeniola said the reduction of state mental health institutions has contributed to more inmates being on psychotropic medications.

Johnson said the current prison population is 196, which is a decrease over recent weeks.

The warden agreed with Rosini that the installation of a holding cell at the county prison that expedites the arraignments of inmates has helped reduce the population.

Johnson said some minor glitches still exist with the holding cell process, but is confident they will be worked out.

A brief executive session was held for personnel reasons.