HARTVILLE, Mo. Plans for a body scanner to prevent contraband at Wright Count jail are now off. The surplus machine from the Transportation Security Administration won't do what the sheriff was led to believe.
After a half-dozen fires in the Wright County jail just this year, Sheriff Glenn Adler was excited for a solution, a body scanner to detect lighters and other items inmates smuggle in body cavities.
"I e-mailed the TSA; we e-mailed back and forth about the machine," Adler says. The TSA planned to give Wright County the surplus Rapiscan Secure 1000.
Adler shared his e-mails, asking if the machine would detect lighters or drugs smuggled inside a person's body. The TSA representative's response stated "Yes, they will detect lighters, etc., including drug packaging. Anything that looks like it does not belong if not part of the original human anatomy."
Other counties also began looking into the opportunity. "Greene County and Camden County were interested in it too," Adler says.
Now, Sheriff Adler is thankful another department came across more accurate information. "They said hey, we've done some further checking; you better call the manufacturer, because it's not going to do what you say it's going to do," says Adler.
The TSA now tells us the Rapiscan Secure 1000 only shows an outline of the body with a low dose x-ray, nothing inside. The manufacturer told Sheriff Adler the same. "So it was kind of a let down," Adler says.
The sheriff and other county officials had already agreed they would spend about $10,000 to install the machine at the Wright County jail, and the sheriff was about ready to go pick it up.
"It was probably lack of knowledge on their part, my contact up there. I'm just glad we caught that in time before we went and got it and spent that money," says Adler. He says a machine that would serve the purpose is more than $200,000, so in Wright County, they'll just have to keep searching inmates the old fashioned way.
The TSA used the now surplus scanners from 2009 to 2013, but stopped using them because of privacy concerns.