The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office is trying out new body scanning technology as a means of mitigating the amount of dangerous drugs and other contraband from entering the Cascade County Detention Center.
The detention center is currently on a pilot program to try out the SPECTRUM BODYSCAN DV from KPrime Technologies of Arizona at no cost for the next six months. Now, every inmate that enters the detention center will go through the body scanner to prevent contraband from entering the facility.
“If an inmate leaves our facility to go to a doctor’s appointment, you come back to the facility, you go through the body scanner,” said Cascade County Undersheriff Cory Reeves. “If you leave this facility period, you go through the body scanner. We’re shutting down the drug issue.”
Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said that he has been trying to get the technology in the jail ever since he took office, citing the facility’s history with contraband being smuggled in.
Last July, numerous suspects were accused of smuggling dangerous drugs and other contraband into the detention center. The scheme involved a group of inmates in jail and friends and families on the outside coordinating to bring dangerous drugs into the jail.
According to the media release from the incident, individuals who were not in custody would bond out an inmate with a low bond amount from jail, then when the inmates got out they would be taken to a location where they would be given packages of balloons, or other plastic wraps that contained drugs and other contraband. The individual would then swallow the plastic package or insert them into their body cavity and commit another offense to be returned to jail to distribute the drugs.
The body scanner provides detection for a variety of illegal objects such as weapons, phone, liquids, explosive, drugs, wires and even plastics in a quick, seven-second scan that uses a low dose X-ray. Contrary to popular belief, law enforcement is not legally able to perform body cavity searches to remove items, explained Slaughter.
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The X-ray exposure isn’t harmful to inmates. In fact, it is less than the average daily natural dose humans experience and a body can be safely scanned nearly 900 times annually on the machine’s highest setting.
KPrime CEO Kham Lin helped set up the technology at the detention center and trained staff this week. According to Slaughter, the detention center began using the technology on Tuesday and it has already helped staff discover inmates attempting to smuggle contraband into jail with them.
The large machine uses finger-print technology to identify inmates prior to each scan. Then, an individual inmate will step on the conveyor belt with their feet apart and arms at their sides to be sent through the Spectrum BODYSCAN DV. Staff at the detention center will then assess the full-body digital image produced by the scanner to determine if the inmate is attempting to smuggle contraband into the jail.
CCSO will take the next six months to assess if the body scanning technology will be a good fit for its staff. If the jail decides to purchase the technology for themselves after the pilot period, Slaughter explained that the CCSO will work with the Cascade County Commissioners to include the cost in next year’s budget.
“We are very fortunate that KPrime was able to work with us and give us an opportunity to try it before we purchased it,” said Slaughter.
Skylar Rispens is a reporter for the Great Falls Tribune. To contact her with comments or story ideas please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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