Etowah County Jail scanner can detect contraband in minutes

Updated: Nov. 12, 2019 at 5:34 PM CST
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ETOWAH CO., Ala. (WBRC) - UPDATE: The scanner has already proven to be very effective and has prevented a number of dangerous drugs and other prohibited items from entering the jail. Since the scanner’s installation on November 6, 2019, there have been 5 cases of green leafy substance found, cigarettes, multiple electronic cigarettes, AAA batteries, unknown narcotics, a liquid substance, pills, and possible heroin detected by the scanner.

ORIGINAL: Stopping contraband before it gets in the jail.

The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office is using the Intercept Scanner, a new state-of-the-art, full-body contraband detection system.

The scanner was installed November 6 in the jail’s booking area where inmates are first processed.

In addition to detecting metal like a standard scanner, the Intercept Scanner can find other types of contraband, like phones, illegal or prescription drugs.

Intercept Scanner in Etowah County Jail can detect contraband in seconds.
Intercept Scanner in Etowah County Jail can detect contraband in seconds.(Etowah County Sheriff's Office)

Sheriff Jonathon Horton said, “We are appreciative to the County Commission for the funds provided and investment made into the intercept body scanner. This tool will enable us to significantly reduce contraband and reduce stress of booking operations.”

Sheriff Horton said the scanner not only improves safety for deputies and inmates, it saves money by making the search process far more efficient.

The sheriff said the scanner detects contraband internally and externally in only four minutes, compared to 15-20 minutes for a traditional strip search used by most jails.

Tuesday, a representative of the company, Tek84, was at the jail training jail staff on the device. She x-rayed herself to show what the x-rays would pick up, right down to some anti-bacterial lotion in her front pocket and a lip balm in her left sock.

It x-rays every inmate, even every employee, who comes and goes through the door, detecting any contraband that might be hidden on the person. That includes the inmates who are on litter detail. Sheriff Jonathon Horton says staff are x-rayed to "keep ourselves honest.

Horton says a shakedown held this past Friday shows the jail has gotten a handle on a contraband problem he found when he took office earlier this year, but adds the scanner should still help a lot.

The Friday shakedown yielded two shanks, no drugs, and two bags of so-called "soft contraband." One held in January yielded 4-5,000 pounds of soft contraband, 30-40 drug seizures, and 30-40 shanks.

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