Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Inmates at Pasco jail now face body scan for drugs, weapons

LAND O'LAKES — Inmates have tried smuggling in everything from cigarettes to pills, cell phones to switchblades. So as body scanners became prevalent in airports around the country, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office looked into getting one for the Land O'Lakes jail.

The RadPRO SecurPASS was installed on Monday. It looks like a white door frame with a light blue bar propped waist-high. The scanner emits a low-dose X-ray — a fraction of the radiation of a chest X-ray, but still enough to see what's tucked inside a pocket or body cavity.

"Each inmate that arrives in the booking section will go through the scanner," Sheriff Chris Nocco announced in a statement Thursday. "If the scanner detects possible contraband, deputies are authorized to conduct a strip search of that individual."

Still, the scanners should reduce the need for the intrusive, time-consuming strip searches, which typically take 15 minutes, the Sheriff's Office said. The body scan takes 7 seconds.

The Sheriff's Office used $195,000 in federal forfeiture funds to buy the scanner for the Land O'Lakes jail. It's the first detention center in Tampa Bay to have one, and the third in the state, behind the Federal Correction Complex in Coleman and the Collier County Jail.

The scanners used in detention centers are slightly different than the airport variety. The airport scanners only show items hidden under clothing, while the jail scanners show anything concealed inside a person's body as well. The Sheriff's Office noted its scanner protects inmates' privacy by not showing the person's anatomical outline or facial features.

Lt. Tom Perron suggested the purchase after seeing the scanner at the Coleman prison last year. Deputies have always faced the challenge of screening for smuggled weapons and drugs, but the prescription drug epidemic has magnified the problem. Some defendants who arrive for their day in court have drugs hidden in a body cavity, just in case their next stop is jail.

"Emergency medical services are often needed for an inmate due to a prescription drug overdose that originated from smuggling in prescription medications this way," the Sheriff's Office said.

Nocco's budget this year calls for adding eight medical staffers at the jail to deal with the crush of drug-addicted inmates.

The sheriff expects the scanner will significantly reduce the amount of contraband entering the jail. It may even serve as a deterrent: Knowing they will be scanned, people may be less likely to try to smuggle dangerous items into the jail.

Inmates can face additional charges for smuggling items into the jail, but more importantly, they often put their own health at risk, officials said.

A 27-year-old woman booked in March on drug and other charges admitted to deputies that she had hidden contraband in her body. A strip search retrieved three syringes, a spoon, a cotton swab, a piece of folded tin foil, and five clear bags.

Only one of the syringes had a cap.

Inmates at Pasco jail now face body scan for drugs, weapons 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 8:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]