Warren County Sheriff’s Department could soon be requesting a full-body scanner to help reduce the amount of contraband being smuggled into the jail.
“We are starting to look around and will be going to several places looking for a full-body scanner,” said Major Jason Walker to members of the county Safety Committee. “We have a huge problem right now with contraband coming in. We took one lady on Friday to Dr. (Dawnmarie) Riley’s office and one today to Dr. Riley’s office. She works with us as far as the female inmates. They had to remove some of the stuff that those ladies were bringing in. It’s sometimes amazing to see what all they attempt to smuggle in.”
Smuggling items in a body cavity is not exclusive to females.
“Without their consent, you have to have reasonable cause to issue a search warrant,” said Walker. “Because of that, we do have people who try to smuggle items into the jail, both men and women. Contraband causes a lot of issues in the jail.”
Actual cost is unknown. Montgomery County Jail installed a full-body scanner at a cost of $158,750. The device cost $118,750, with an additional $40,000 needed to modify the intake area to accommodate the scanner.
What sounds like a lot of money could be offset by its cost savings. The county is responsible for any medical care, and the cost thereof, needed by its inmates.
“One person overdoses and you send them over to the hospital and get a $36,000 bill,” said Walker. “A scanner would help prevent that. A scanner is estimated to last approximately 10 years. It would pay for itself.”
In February, 242 inmates were booked into the jail. Walker notes that is 242 chances for contraband to be smuggled into the facility.
While consent or probable cause is required to search an inmate internally for contraband, the scanner would be required for all inmates being booked into the facility. Medical exemptions will be allowed, such as pregnancy.
A body scanner can detect metal, plastic, organic and inorganic objects – whether hidden externally or internally. They can detect needles, weapons and cellphones. Baggies of drugs, either swallowed or inserted into body cavities, can be seen on the scan.
When the department is ready to request a purchase, that information will be presented to Warren County commissioners.