Dependency on opioids and other controlled substances can drive people to go to incredible lengths to feed their addiction. Unfortunately, this desperation leads people to extreme measures.

To help prevent illicit substances and weapons from entering the Moore County Detention Center, county leaders approved the purchase this past week of a body scanning device at a total cost of $149,000.

Major Andy Conway with the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said facility staff strive to “do the very best in fully searching every person,” but the extreme actions of contraband smugglers created an imminent danger to themselves, other inmates and Detention Center personnel.

“Some of the substances we are seeing are so powerful, even the most miniscule amount to the non-user can be fatal,” Conway said, noting that drugs like Fentanyl and Carfentanil can be hundreds times more potent than traditional opioids.

The Tek84 Intercept Whole Body Security Scanning System is a self-contained device that will detect weapons and contraband hidden in body cavities and elsewhere on individuals.

Conway said the device will be incorporated into the intake process for every inmate to pass through upon entry into the Moore County Detention Center. Once in use, it is expected to be a less intrusive experience for individuals and provide additional protection to staff during the pandemic by limiting the need for hands-on body searches.

Conway explained the scanner produces a single high-resolution image using a low-level of x-rays transmitted through the body. There is minimal radiation exposure to the individual and no “scatter radiation” exceeds the device’s self-contained footprint.

The entire scanning process takes four seconds while the individual stands motionless inside the device.

“This will limit liability of an impaired person from tripping or falling,” Conway said.

Commissioner Catherine Graham asked what is the standard procedure when contraband is discovered during the inmate intake process.

Conway said whenever a person enters the facility, they are first given the option to place any illicit items in an “amnesty box.” This does not preclude the person from being charged with possession of the item, but they would not face a separate, more serious charge of attempting to sneak the contraband into the facility.

Commissioner Louis Gregory, a retired law enforcement officer, said illegal substances transported into detention facilities can result in unnecessary deaths.

“I see no reason whatsoever that we do not provide our Detention Center the ability to go forward,” Gregory said, “and do the best they can to eliminate this concern.”