The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has installed a full-body scanner to search people booked into the county jail.
In a news release, Sheriff David Hutchinson said the scanner will help keep inmates and jail staffers safe by quickly finding dangerous concealed items, such as drugs and weapons, on those entering the downtown public safety facility.
The Anoka County jail last month became the first in the state to use a scanner, which cost $145,000.
Officials hope the scanner cuts down on inmate drug overdoses, which Hutchinson said are rising across the country amid the opioid epidemic.
The Legislature last year authorized the use of security screening X-ray equipment in corrections facilities with certain health requirements, and the Minnesota Department of Health gave the county the go-ahead on Friday.
“We are not immune to this issue in Minnesota and our staff worked closely with the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association to convince state lawmakers this technology was critically important,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “We are confident it will save lives.”
According to data from the past three years, detention center staffers find drugs on inmates entering the jail or already incarcerated about 1,100 to 1,200 times annually, spokesman Andy Skoogman said. The jail booked nearly 31,000 people last year, down about 10,000 this year due mostly to COVID-19.