Chester County officials hold town hall to discuss prison escape

POCOPSON TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) — Chester County residents spoke to officials face-to-face on Monday night following last month’s prison escape that led to a 14-day manhunt.

The town hall was an opportunity for people who live near the Chester County Prison to get some answers.

“Our daily lives were obviously very much interrupted by this,” said Brooke Sarkar of Malvern. “Hoping to hear plan of changes taking place locally and state-wide to ensure something is this nature is not going to happen again.”

It’s been five days since convicted killer and prison escapee Danelo Cavalcante was captured.

Questions remain about how the dangerous fugitive convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend escaped the prisoner grounds on August 31.

SEE ALSO: DEA releases thermal imaging video that led to Danelo Cavalcante’s capture

“We take responsibility for what happened here. We take it seriously. Everybody was put in harm’s way,” said Howard Holland, the acting warden of the Chester County Prison.

Holland says the day of the escape was his first day as acting warden of the prison. He vows to make necessary improvements.

“We are planning to do numerous safety enhancements, most of which come from technology, personnel movement including drones, detection methods. We are going to take this facility and make it state of the art,” said Holland.

According to Holland, some of those improvements already began, including adding additional razor wire and military-grade mesh in areas that allowed Cavalcate to slip through during his dramatic escape.

Prison officials also exploring the use of K9s and ankle monitors for high-risk inmates.

There will be upgrades to camera systems and dedicated personnel to observe security cameras.

The warden says he is angry, embarrassed and frustrated by what happened, and he thinks with these changes he can make a difference.

Some neighbors say they left the meeting satisfied. Others left with more questions than answers.

“They need to step it up. It seems like they’re on it and willing to do it,” said Dale Breen of East Marlborough, Pennsylvania.

“They’re on the right track in getting this problem fixed so we won’t have to deal with it ever again,” said Kevin Breen.

There was also a lot of attention and focus given to alert methods.

Officials also encouraging residents to register for ReadyChesco, the reverse 911 system, to receive all immediate and emergency alerts.

“We’re reviewing all options. Something as simple as reutilizing the prison alarm that’s been there for 50 years. We have all this technology in place, but sometimes very simple basic measures can alert the community and can alert law enforcement and possibly prevent this from happening,” said Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline.

SEE ALSO: Fugitive Chester County killer used previous escapee’s breakout methods: Warden

The warden says he expects upgrades to be in place between six months to a year.

“Hopefully 10 years from now folks will look back and feel safe, that no one’s gotten out of this prison and the security measure will be a record investment into this prison,” said Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell.

Another town hall will take place Wednesday night.

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