CCSO planning to test body scanner for six months at county jail

During next week’s meeting, County Commissioners will consider an agreement with KPrime Technologies for a six month demonstration of body scanner equipment at the county jail.

The six month test will allow the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office test the equipment and determine if it will meet their needs within their budget.

The company is offering the demonstration at no cost to the county.

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Undersheriff Cory Reeves told commissioners that if approved, the scanner would arrive at the county jail on Feb. 17 and require about two days of installation. Then the company will train CCSO staff on the equipment for three days.

After that, they’ll start using the scanner and “every inmate going into out facility will be scanned,” Reeves said, in an effort to prevent drugs and other contraband from entering the facility.

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Last summer, several inmates at the jail and people on the outside were charged in connection with a smuggling operation bringing methamphetamine, suboxone, marijuana, tobacco, lighters and rolling papers into the jail.

The smuggling would typically occur as follows, according to CCSO last summer: those not in custody would bond an inmate with a low bond out of jail. When the inmate got out, he would be taken to a location and be provided with different packages, which were made of either balloons, condoms or saran wrap and contained different illegal items including meth, suboxone, marijuana, tobacco, lighters and rolling papers.

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After the bonded out inmate had the packages, he’d swallow them or insert them into their anus, according to CCSO.

The inmate would then be required to commit a new crime, or engage in conduct that would revoke their bond and send them back to jail, according to CCSO.

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During the booking process at the jail, the inmates involved would provide detention officers with certain names and say they couldn’t be placed in the same pod because they were enemies. The inmates were required to say they had enemies in a certain pod to ensure the inmate with the contraband would be returned to the pod where other inmates were awaiting the delivery, according to CCSO.

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Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said last summer that law enforcement and detention officers do their best to search people coming into the jail, but can’t perform cavity searches and lacked the resources for a scanner.

During the Feb. 5 county commission work session, Reeves said that full body scanners are in the $200,000 range.

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Reeves said KPRime offered a scanner that focuses on the torso area, dropping the price to the $55,000 to $65,000 range, though they’re still not sure how they’d fund a scanner purchase.

Commissioner Joe Briggs said he’s “interested to see how it functions for you guys.”

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Reeves told The Electric that if something shows up on the scanner, CCSO still has to get warrants for cavity searches and transport an inmate to the hospital for medical staff to perform the search.

Last summer, CCSO officials said if they had a high suspicion someone had drugs hidden in their body, they could take the person to the hospital for X-rays, which added expenses.

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There could be additional costs, but Reeves said they don’t want drugs getting into the facility or having baggies burst while inside a person and causing an overdose or other medical emergencies, or be distributed in the jail causing other people to overdose.

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Missoula and Gallatin County have added body scanners in their jails, Reeves said.

Reeves said there’s no penalty if the county decides it doesn’t meet their needs or they can’t afford to keep the scanner. He said he’s called other jails in Wyoming and Nevada using KPrime equipment and got positive feedback.