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BCDC considers new search tools

The Harrodsburg Herald of Harrodsburg, Kentucky

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Jail Committee Looks At Full Body Scanner

One of the biggest problems in jails is smuggling. Every time prisoners enter Boyle County Detention Center (BCDC), it creates issues for the staff, said Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon, whether they are new detainees or convicts returning from work release.

At the Oct. 9 meeting of the Mercer-Boyle County Joint Jail Committee, John Shannon of OD Security gave the committee a demonstration of what the Soter RS full body scanning system can do to help stop — or at least slow down — smuggling.

Shannon said the scanner, originally developed to scan South Africa diamond miners, was still relatively new to the market. He showed the committee scans that had detected contraband either on or in the bodies of inmates, visitors, volunteers and even the staff — a razor blade wrapped in tape, a package of cocaine no bigger than a sugar pack hidden behind an ear, a plastic shank in a toothbrush holder and a single shot pistol with six rounds of ammo.

"It's the best image at the lowest radiation possible," Shannon said. He said the scans are less invasive than cavity searches, which wouldn't find a majority of the contraband anyway.

Shannon said the system has two terabytes of memory, meaning it is capable of storing 960,000 images. "Positive finds are stored in separate files and are admissible in court," Shannon said.

Software upgrades are free. The product comes with a two-year warranty on initial purchase, and Shannon estimates the lifespan of the device at seven years. The first machine the company sold in Europe back in 2006 is still in use, he said.

While the committee worried about possible health effects, Shannon said the device is safe for inmates who have pacemakers or who are pregnant.

"Medically, this system is safe to use on anyone," he said.

Shannon said the only thing the scanner had failed to detect were inmates smuggling in single suboxone strips.

He said the device would cost $ 118,000. While Harmon wants to use the jail's canteen fund to finance the purchase, Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney and Mercer County Judge-Executive Milward Dedman said they were not ready to take the proposal before the county fiscal courts yet, but that they would take it under advisement.

In other action, the jail committee:

Learned eight members of the BCDC staff have trained to use the CellSense portable detector. They can now run scans on laundry bags and mattresses. The device runs 12 hours on a single battery charge, Harmon said.

Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley asked him about the battery replacement costs, and Harmon said he didn't know, but he'd find out.

Learned there had been no movement on the possible leasing agreement with the Red Cross for an intensive outpatient treatment center after they had provided the agency with a red line copy of the lease agreement.

Received a progress report on efforts to expand the substance abuse program. They need numbers from the Mercer County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy before they can proceed further.

"We've got to pull our resources together," Harmon said. He said there are $3 million in non-state funding available, but they need a plan to show the committee.

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Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015

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