A new full body scanner is up and running at the Belmont County Jail. It will detect contraband that is being smuggled in. On Thursday, there was a special tour for county commissioners and the media.
Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas calls smuggling drugs in body cavities dangerous, because if it bursts inside of a person’s body, it could lead to death.
The new scanner will find any hidden item. “It’s no different than the airport, you’ll place your feet in there,” Sheriff Lucas said.
There are 167 inmates at the Belmont County Jail, and over the past weekend, three people tried to smuggle drugs into the jail.
“This is a tool that we hope prevents contraband getting into the jail. Unfortunately we’ve had overdoses like all facilities,” Jail Administrator Brent Carpenter said.
No one will be placed into a holding cell or move farther into the jail until they are scanned.
The sheriff runs the jail, but the county commission owns it.
Commissioner Mark Thomas said that commission could be open to lawsuits if there was an overdose and/or a death.
Commissioner Josh Meyer agreed to try the scanner on Thursday. “It was very simple, very easy to do. Very low dose of radiation in comparison to some things in the medical field. Very low dose but very effective in showing the sheriffs what they need to see,” he said.
Every inmate is scanned upon entry, and upon re-entry after court.
Anyone found with contraband will have a choice: they either volunteer to go for the cavity search, or the Sheriff’s Department will get a body scanner.
Belmont County is the fifth in Ohio to get a body scanner. Thomas said the unit cost $230,000, but he calls it money well spent.
The scanner had to be paid for up front, so the county commission provided the funding initially. But the jail will gradually pay them back, with money made from the commissary.