COVINGTON — Sheriff Ezell Brown unveiled the Tek84 Intercept Body Scanner Friday morning at the Newton County Law Enforcement Center. The scanner is the latest technology to keep inmates and deputies safe, and Newton County is the second jail in Georgia to receive the $149,000 scanner.
Prisons and jails are using full body scanners to detect weapons and contraband hidden in body cavities and elsewhere on inmates. Unlike airport body scanners, these scanners use a low-level of x-rays transmitted through the body.
With the Intercept Body Scanner, each person enters the scanner and stands motionless for four seconds. The scan provides a high-resolution scan of the full body, including the abdomen, in a single image, with no magnification or distortion, which leads to better and easier identification of contraband.
“Thanks to the Board of Commissioners for following the dream that we had in terms of making sure that we have the best in technology,” said Brown. Funding for the scanner was provided through the county budget.
“What we see during our daily operation is that we will have arrestees that will come in and ingest various objects that they would like to hide from us, including drugs,” said Brown. “This machine will detect foreign objects inside a person, and we can quickly take this person to the emergency room and ensure that the contraband is retrieved before it can harm this person or someone else.
“Let me share with you what motivated us to get this machine,” the sheriff continued. “We have always worked hard to keep contraband out of our facility. We worked hard to make sure it was safe. But I found out that our residents would go through the most extreme ways to get contraband in here. I took a call one night and was told that it appeared all of the inmates in one of the pods were under the influence of some type of drug. We responded and we found that the drugs came into the facility hidden in the false teeth of an individual. No one would have ever thought to have someone take their false teeth out to be checked for drugs. I said it is time for us to move forward, and we’re proud of this.
“I feel a sense of security and feel comfortable now that no contraband can get into our facility. Every individual who is in the facility, whether they go to court and come back, or whether it is a work detail and they are coming back in, or whether it is an arrestee, every person will go through the scanner.”
Dennis Wolfe, a technical and business consultant for Tek84 who helped develop the scanner and oversaw its installation at the jail, said the body scanner is a tool for keeping law enforcement officers, as well as inmates, safe from anyone trying to sneak a weapon or contraband into a jail.
“This has become a very common tool to help stop the drugs coming in, the weapons coming in, the phones coming in, the smart watches coming in, because you can use them like a phone,” said Wolfe. “You’ll catch things you never thought you were going to catch.”
He added that the x-ray system used by the scanner is safer than x-ray machines used by doctors’ offices for annual check-ups.
“This uses a very finely tuned filtered x-ray. You can’t see or feel it, or see the machine working, he said. “You would have to be scanned on this machine 400 times a day for a year to equal the amount of radiation received in one chest x-ray.”
Newton County Commission Chair Marcello Banes said the installation of the scanner marked a great day for Newton County.
“I want to thank Sheriff Brown for having the vision to go out and seek new technology such as this,” said Banes. “To have this type of equipment in our jail to make sure that the inmates and our deputies and employees are safe is wonderful. I want to thank the Board of Commissioners for allowing us to get this equipment. It’s amazing to me to see what you do when you have teamwork.”