County jail keeps inmates and officers safe with new body scanner
When the Transportation Security Administration upgraded their full body scanners at airports, county jails across the country were given the option to buy their old ones. Grand Traverse County Jail bought one, and just recently put it into operation.
It's called the Rapiscan Secure 1000SP body scanner. The market value is $159,640, but Grand Traverse County purchased it for $15,000, half of which was covered by a grant.
"The whole idea is that this is one more tool to prevent contraband from entering for the safety of everyone," said Sgt. Todd Ritter, Jail Administrative Sgt.
Jail administrators say that when a person is arrested and brought in, officers are required to pat them down multiple times before putting them into a cell. But sometimes they can miss things.
"We're looking for large weapons, anything that can be constituted as a weapon like a pen, pencil, little pocket knives," said Dep. Mary Schwettmann who works at the Grand Traverse County Jail.
Now, each inmate is scanned to check for these items on their body in case was missed during a physical search. If the scanner reveals that there is something on the person's body, officers can then take them into another room to do a strip search.
"It helps us isolate where contraband may be and what type of contraband it may be before we take somebody in a small room one on one," said Sgt. Ritter. "We kind of have an idea what we might be dealing with."
The scanners have also eliminated having to call in a female officer on overtime to conduct a physical search of a female inmate before deciding whether or not to do a strip search on her. With the scanner, male officers are able to adequately see anything that a female subject has on them.
The scanner has also reduced the possibility of any civil liabilities.
"People can't say when we do a strip search now that it was arbitrary or that it was done just to single them out," said Sgt. Ritter. "If we're strip searching them after a scan, it's because we've noticed an anomaly on the body that we need to figure out what it is to determine that they're not trying to bring contraband into the facility."