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Decatur County Detention Center Officer Nick Beagle demonstrates how an inmate stands in the booth as the Tek 84 Body scan begins. In a less then four second scan and with minimal exposure to harmful x-rays, a complete image of the body in question is produced, with all foreign matter shown in stark contrast. The device can also scan inert matter like mattresses, handbags or bags of clothing and is mobile. Currently set-up at the existing detention center, it will be moved to the sally-port in the new Decatur County Detention Center when it opens.

GREENSBURG — A new piece of technology has been added to the county’s crime fighting arsenal.

On Oct. 10, a Tek 84, state-of-the-art, full body scanner was installed at the existing Decatur County Detention Center.

Originally scheduled to arrive in time for installation at the newly finished Decatur County Detention Center, the California-based company managed to ship the scanner early, and it has been in use here since Oct. 10.

The scanner is housed currently in the main ‘sally-port’ of the existing detention facility – where police vehicles come into the building to deliver inmates. The inmate is then placed in the photobooth-like apparatus, the device takes an x-ray of their entire body, head to foot, and casts the captured image on the computer screen.

The resulting image is a “picture” of the inmate, exposing all metallic and non-metallic objects foreign to the body. Pockets of air in the body cavities appear as dark shadows. Seeing oneself on the screen after a scan is a jarring experience: the image is a very honest depiction and can detect even the smallest foreign objects.

“We located a razor blade in an inmate’s esophagus and a swallowed handcuff key in another’s abdominal cavity,” read a press release today from the Decatur County Sheriff’s office.

A similar Tek 84 Intercept body scanner was installed at the Bartholomew County Detention Center. In a recent article in the Republic News, Major John Martocia was quoted saying, “After 2 failed body searches, Intercept immediately turned up nine grams of methamphetamine and a bag of suboxone pills.”

As protocol for the intake at the new detention center (and in the duration of it’s use at the existing facility), inmates will submit to a four second full body scan as soon as they are brought into the facility. If weapons or other contraband are detected in the various cavities in and of the body, the inmate will not be admitted until those items are “purged.”

If the inmate refuses to submit to the scan, law enforcement will be obliged to present the inmate with a search warrant, and scan the inmate without their willing consent. Any contraband will then have to be “purged” either voluntarily, or with medial “persuasion” at DCMH.

With budgets set in stone for the detention center currently under construction, Sheriff Dave Durant, who was sworn-in earlier this year, had little input in creating those budgets. However, as was his right, as a controlling factor in seeing how those budgets were maintained, he was allowed to swap items around — borrow-here-add-there — to afford the purchase of the scanner without taxing the public more than was already planned in the original covenant.

“Things like the body scanner that are drastically important – there isn’t one in Dearborn County, not in Rush county – we took almost half of the budgets and moved stuff around to afford it. That’s how strongly we felt about the need. And this was something the previous Jail Manager, Tony Blodgett kept saying, ‘We need a body scanner, we need a body scanner,’” Durant explained.

With frugality and preservation of monies secured from the 26,000 tax payers in Decatur County being first and foremost in his mission, Durant said, “We’re spending money in the way that these taxpayers get the most benefit. If we have a piece of equipment we have to train for at the expense of the taxpayer, I look at it as saving us millions of dollars in liability. In this litigious society, we have to be right all the time,” Durant commented.

“If we make a mistake, lives can be lost. That is unacceptable,” Durant said.

Durant regards publication of articles such as this and the broadcasting efforts of WTRE as methods of deterrence.

“If they read this article, maybe then they will know how important it is to surrender their contraband before they even arrive at the detention center. It will also help them avoid adding more charges to their records. It just makes sense,” Durant said.

Contact Bill Rethlake at

812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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