Body scanning technology helps Monroe County Sheriff’s Office detect contraband before it enters jail

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office gave Local 10 an inside look at the department’s body scanning technology that detects potential contraband before it enters the jail.

Last week, a scan revealed a 41-year-old woman was hiding powder cocaine, crack cocaine and seven grams of fentanyl in her body, deputies reported.

“Seven grams is enough to kill hundreds of people. If it had ruptured at all, immediately she would have died,” said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

The scanner at the detention center in Key West was purchased in 2013.

“I bought this scanner for the safety and security of the facility, my men and women who work there, and the inmates,” Ramsay said. “Last year, we actually found a weapon inside a person.”

The scan can show metal objects, some prosthetics and potential contraband hidden - or “suitcased” in the body.

The National Institute of Justice recently reported that contraband is a “formidable threat at correctional facilities nationwide.” Recent headlines show how scanners have picked up on items like stashed pills, scissors and guns.

Miami-Dade Corrections officials told Local 10 they installed full-body, low-dose X-ray scanners in 2018. In a statement, MDCR said the department “has been able to stop a plethora of contraband from entering our facilities, including those concealed internally and externally on an individual’s body.”

At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, there were 36 documented incidents where contraband was intercepted during the intake process utilizing the SecurePass body scanner.

“I want people to know I have it, I use it,” Ramsay said about the technology in the Keys. “It’s for the safety and security of the facility -- and people who try to suitcase it in there, you’re just going to get in more trouble in the end.”

About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.