LAPORTE — Inmates at the LaPorte County Jail will soon be run through a body scanner in an effort to curb the flow of drugs filtering into the facility.
The decision to purchase one comes after several drug-related incidents in recent months that include an inmate dying from overdosing on fentanyl and charges against a now former jail cook who allegedly brought in contraband.
Sheriff John Boyd said he wants employees scanned randomly, but that hasn’t been decided because of how morale at the department might be impacted and personal items that could turn up on staff members.
The LaPorte County Council last week approved spending $100,000 on a body scanner that should be operating within a month.
Boyd said some of the contraband has been getting into the jail by inmates swallowing or placing items in body cavities prior to booking.
Without probable cause, they legally can’t be searched, but images of contraband produced by the imaging device resembling those used in airports will provide the probable cause necessary to perform a search, Boyd said.
No contraband will escape detection ,"whether they swallowed something, ingested something, surgically planted something or inserted something," said Dennis Wolfe of Virtual Imaging, the Florida-based makers of the devices.
James Timberlake-Lane, 20, of Michigan City is charged with level 5 felony trafficking for allegedly placing a cellphone on a tray of mashed potatoes Sept. 9 and having that tray delivered to an offender in his cell.
Andrea Roberts, 35, of Michigan City, died in her cell July 15 from an overdose of fentanyl according to officials.
Some inmates have also reported seeing other inmates using drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in recent weeks, according to authorities.
LaPorte County Jail Cmdr. Derek Allen said he saw an extensive list of drugs recovered from use of a body scanner during a recent trip to the Hamilton County jail.
"It ranges from anything that you can imagine they’re recovering down there," Allen said.