New scanners already stopping smugglers at Pima County Jail

New scanners already stopping smugglers at Pima County Jail

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - They've been operational for two weeks and the new body scanners at the Pima County Detention Center busted two suspected smugglers.

One scanner is for newly processed people at the jail and the other is for newly sentenced inmates, according to Lt. Elsa Navarro with the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

She said both cases involved women hiding something inside of their bodies.

One was drugs, the other was a small container of urine.

Both now face additional criminal charges because they failed to surrender the contraband, Navarro said.

"We're not going into anybody's body," Navarro said. "We're actually just looking at the scans and giving them the opportunity of turning that item over."

If something is discovered in the scan, the next step is a strip search.

Navarro said there's no way to tell how much contraband slipped into the jail before the scanners. She said some would turn up during room checks or around the intake center.

"Just because we don't find it every single day, doesn't mean there isn't any," she said.

The two machines cost roughly $112,000 each. Pima County Risk management paid for one, while the inmate care fund covered the other.

A new state law allows county jails to operate the machines without a licensed and trained X-ray technician.

Navarro admits the corrections officers are not medical professionals, but they work together to identify any unusual marks on the scans.

"We may not find everything, but as the experience grows with this machine we'll be able to see more things or be able to identify more things," she said.

It's all about noticing patterns and trends. Not just across the population of people being booked, but also with each person.

Navarro said the scans are kept on file and can be used to look for changes.

Anyone going through the scan receives less radiation than they would from an x-ray at the dentist's office, according to Navarro.

She said the machine tracks an individual's trips through to make sure nobody reaches a potentially dangerous level of radiation.

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