The bigger security picture
The new camera system will follow the installation a year ago of another security device at the jail, a Tek84 Intercept full-body scanner.
The scanner essentially is a full-length X-ray that reveals if someone being booked into the jail has a weapon or drugs in their clothing or inside their body.
Balzer said the scanner was purchased to prevent contraband from entering the jail, and thus far, it’s been a resounding success.
The scanner has “done exactly what I thought it would,” Balzer said.
“The biggest thing about a body scanner is the deterrence,” he said.
It was expected the scanner would deter inmates from trying to bring contraband into the jail, and all evidence suggests that’s what has occurred, he said.
Several times, he said, the scanner revealed something the jail staff couldn’t identify, and the inmates were sent to a hospital to be examined for a possible medical problem.
“To our knowledge, no contraband has come in,” Balzer said.
Even so, he said, all newly arriving inmates are put in cells where they can be monitored to ensure it’s safe for them to join the jail’s general population.
COVID-19 pandemic precautions
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic erupted after the scanner was installed, Balzer said, and brought with it a host of new challenges for the jail, at 844 U.S. Route 42 N. in Delaware.
“We jumped on the precautions early, at the very beginning of the outbreak,” he said, aided by the Delaware General Health District and the jail’s contract physician, Dr. Betty Mitchell, who also has a master’s degree in public health.
“She has been wonderful through this crisis, giving us direction on what to do to keep our inmates and our staff safe,” Balzer said. “With the guidance of Dr. Mitchell and the health district, and all the precautions we’ve got in place, we’ve really been able to limit it.”
As of Dec. 1, he said, no inmate at the jail has tested positive for the virus, but some have tested positive after transferring to other facilities.