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The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office plans to invest roughly $120,000 in a body scanning system to keep contraband out of the county jail.
County commissioners unanimously approved the purchase Thursday during a board meeting.
To pay for the purchase, the sheriff’s office will use federal funds received as reimbursement for housing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement inmates. Sheriff’s office staff expect a surplus of about $268,000 in the federal recovery account by the fiscal year’s end, more than enough to cover the cost of the scanner.
Officials hope the technology will help them prevent people from smuggling drugs and other contraband into the jail, activity that has become a “serious problem.”
“This was in the wake of several incidents of various items of contraband turning up in the possession of inmates,” Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins wrote in a memo submitted to county commissioners. “This has become a serious problem, and I feel it can only be addressed through the most effective scanning technology available.”
This year, one inmate at the jail was investigated for concealing contraband twice while at the jail. During a trial in Frederick County Circuit Court, Michael Angelo Jones produced an SD card from his prison jumpsuit while on the stand in his own defense. While he was awaiting sentencing, correctional officers found a razor blade concealed in the waistband of a pair of boxer shorts inside his cell.
After an investigation into Jones’ contraband, the sheriff’s office said it renewed its focus on searches of defendants transported to and from the courthouse.
And in September, Justyn D. Robinson-Clipper, 19, was charged with concealing contraband in a place of confinement when correctional officers found more than 15 packets of heroin and about 20 broken-up Xanax pills hidden in the mesh lining of his right pants leg.
The scanner, manufactured by the company OD Security, can detect metal, plastic, inorganic and organic materials.
Maj. David Ward, assistant corrections bureau chief, said officials plan to scan all arrested individuals as they enter the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. They will also check inmates as they are leaving for or returning from court appearances, medical appointments or funerals, according to a county report.
The scans, which take about 7 seconds, will enhance rather than replace manual searches of individuals arriving at the jail, Ward said.
Ward and a captain in the corrections bureau traveled to New Mexico in September to watch the technology at work in the Santa Fe detention center. Both were “very impressed with the demonstration and determined that the capabilities fit the needs of our detention center,” the sheriff wrote.
Ward said he isn’t sure how long it will take to buy and install the $118,750 scanner.
Water and sewer amendments
Commissioners also made several water and sewer plan changes that could allow development projects to advance.
The changes move the 925-house Hazelnut Run and 1,010-home Casey projects, both in the New Market area, a step closer to connecting with county water and sewer lines. Commissioner David Gray was the lone board member to oppose the plan amendments for both projects.
Commissioners approved several other water and sewer plan amendments but postponed to Nov. 20 discussion of changes related to the Monrovia Town Center project.