The Douglas County Corrections Center says no incidents occurred during a power outage at the jail Wednesday afternoon. The outage lasted just under three hours and caused a lockdown of the facility.
An armed deputy stood guard at the main gate during the outage. “There's a reason he's standing here with a shotgun so we need to get moving,” said Douglas County Commissioner Mike Boyle.
According to Director of Corrections Mark Foxall, the main electrical grid was to go offline for planned work, but the backup circuit failed, causing the jail's backup power generator to start. That ran for about 30 minutes before it failed due to a mechanical problem.
The Douglas County Jail, with 1,100 prisoners and staff, has its own generator that's tested once a month and supposed to kick in when the power goes out, but during the outage it didn't work. “Of course the generator is a concern, but it’s tested monthly and it’s mechanical and like you drive your car to work it's fine and you go home to drive your car and it doesn't work, so it’s that sort of a situation but it’s going to be addressed,” said county spokesman Phil Rooney.
While on lockdown computers were shut down and that affected those waiting to be released or bond out. “His bond has been paid and now he can't come out because they have a problem with their power system,” said Patrick Dunn, father of a defendant. “Very frustrating.”
Visitors for jail or arraignment court had to wait outside. “Power off here at a jail and they can't get it back on easy, you know?” said a visitor. Foxall pointed out the power failure was the first of its kind in the jail's history.
The Durham Museum was also among the buildings in downtown Omaha without power. It was closed to the public.
The outage started around 11 a.m. Power was restored around 2 p.m. Jail functions like court and bail release resumed after a head count. OPPD said an electrical switch failure knocked out service to several square blocks affecting 74 customers. The outage stretched from Howard to Marcy streets and from 6th to 8th streets.