Sheriff’s department invests in body scanner


A new body scanner at the Jackson County Jail is expected to make the jail safer and the jobs of jail officers easier, officials say.

The new scanner was installed May 28, and staff members are expected to undergo training next week before it is put into operation.

The scanner is located in the property room of the jail, where inmates clothing and other items are held during their stay.

Staff members are limited to pat-downs and strip searches now but will soon have the operation of the scanner to make sure they do not miss anything.

The scanner will be part of the book-in process, and it will be used when inmates return from work detail and court hearings.

If an inmate is caught trying to smuggle something into the jail, they will face additional charges.

The scanner had a price tag of about $168,000, which was paid for through the commissary fund, so taxpayer dollars were not used.

It’s a large box with a computer monitor and controls on the outside. Inside is a conveyor belt and base that looks like a treadmill.

Inmates will stand and go through to the other side, where staff will be able to see if they have concealed items.

“It’s going to make our job easier because we are able to identify things,” Jail Commander Chris Everhart said. “Even when you suspect people are trying to smuggle something in, you cannot always get it from a strip search. It’s also much safer for everyone.”

Sheriff Rick Meyer said the staff will still be rigorous in their searches to make sure the inmates and staff are safe. He said the scanner will help detect items even when they’re concealed inside the body.

“Inmates are creative in the way they try to smuggle items in,” he said. “I think this is going to be another important tool for the jail. It’s not just drugs but weapons, too.”

Everhart said there also have been cases at other jails where inmates have swallowed drugs in an attempt to hide them.

“That’s undetectable with any strip search, but the scanner will pick that up,” he said. “People have swallowed balloons or bags, and there have been cases where people have not told anyone and they’ve passed. We still will have the concern, but this will be a tool in being able to eliminate that concern.”