BATAVIA, Ohio (July 18, 2019) — Retired biology and chemistry professor David Fankhauser volunteered his talents at the Clermont County Jail last year because he missed teaching. He had a long history of social activism, fueled by a Quaker faith that stresses prison reform.
“I called and asked and they interviewed me,” said Dr. Fankhauser, 77, who retired two and a-half years ago from the University of Cincinnati. “I didn’t know if they would do a background check,” he added with a laugh. “I did tell them I was arrested in Mississippi.”
He was one of the first of the Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson, Miss., in 1961. They were protesting the illegal segregation of interstate facilities throughout the South. The Freedom Rides made Civil Rights a national movement, and led to the integration of interstate public facilities.
After receiving a PhD in Biology from The Johns Hopkins University in 1971, he and his pregnant wife moved to a small farm in Clermont County to explore Earth-friendly lifestyles. They delivered their three healthy children at home. They developed self-sufficiency skills to promote family health including a large organic garden, goats and chickens, well water, wood heat, and their own sewer and water, with minimal consumption of resources.
In 1973, he began teaching at UC Clermont College, a new, rural branch of the University of Cincinnati. He created the majority of their current biology lecture-lab courses, including science majors’ biology, microbiology, genetics, cell biology and anatomy and physiology.
Bill Hogue, captain, jail administration, for the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office said jail officials were reevaluating academic standards when Dr. Fankhauser called. The jail had offered GED classes which stopped after they went online.
“We had had two or three teachers – the last was an elementary school teacher – who were paid,” Hogue said. “We had trouble finding someone. He calls me out of the blue. He doesn’t want paid. He’s doing this just to help somebody. He’s got a helluva background. Inmates really seem to like his class.”
Guards invite inmates to the voluntary “academic enrichment” hour at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays. At first, five to 10 would attend. Lately, the number averages in the teens. Seventeen came to a July 16 class on Water: The Solvent of Life.
“Word is spreading that it’s fun,” Dr. Fankhauser said. “Really good teaching is one form of entertainment.”
One of the inmates told a visitor at the July 16 class: “He’s a good teacher!”
“I believe that alienation and low self-esteem are major factors in asocial/antisocial behavior leading to these men being incarcerated in the first place,” Dr. Fankhauser said. “I attempt to nurture their self-esteem, and facilitate their integration into society.”
On this day, inmates wearing blue jail fatigues grab golf pencils and a piece of paper when entering the classroom with four rows of college classroom-type desks. The bespectacled Dr. Fankhauser, wearing a short sleeve shirt and Khaki’s, greets the arrivals. His gray hair is thinning.
After the door locks shut, Dr. Fankhauser launches into a lively review of last week’s lesson on the chemical activity of elements. He asks questions and virtually everyone chimes in with answers, which he records on the chalk board. He walks around the room and motions with his hands, sometimes using a pointer to draw attention to an illustration on a PowerPoint presentation on a small monitor above the chalk board. Inmates take notes and laugh at his humor.
“It’s the whole point of the Socratic method,” Dr. Fankhauser said afterward. “You ask questions – and their answers lead you through the material. I love it that they’re not afraid to give a wrong answer.”
Dr. Fankhauser comes up with the day’s lesson at 6 a.m. He says it’s impossible to develop a curriculum because inmates serve various sentences. This week, 40 percent of the students are new.
“I’m really pleased those who returned remembered what I’m attempting to teach,” he said. “They are really so appreciative. That really helps, too.”
Dr. Fankhauser is really glad he made the call to jail officials.
“It’s the highlight of my week,” he said. “I miss teaching. I love teaching. I did it for 43 years.”
Captain Hogue added: “I’m sure his classes are unique to the state. I don’t know anybody close to it.”
Columbus, OH (June 10, 2019) – Today at Ohio’s 2019 Opiate and Other Drug Conference: Promoting Solutions for Addiction Throughout Ohio, the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities presented the CARES awards to six outstanding first responders and frontline workers. Clermont County Sheriff Robert S. (Steve) Leahy was presented with a CARES award.
Sheriff Leahy was nominated for this CARES Award by Karen Scherra, the Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board. A total of five individuals serving in Clermont County were nominated for awards by members of the Clermont County Opiate Task Force.
According to the nomination, Sheriff Leahy has been an incredibly strong supporter of the behavioral health system, assuring that inmates in the county jail are assessed and linked to treatment upon release. Thanks to Sheriff Leahy, Clermont County was one of the first counties in the state to have Deputies carry naloxone. He has supported the Community Alternative Sentencing Center (CASC), housed in a section of the jail, that provides treatment, including MAT, to individuals who agree to participate. He has also worked with the community to implement a Quick Response Team in Clermont County. For Sheriff Leahy, this issue is also personal. He has family experience with addiction and instead of hiding that experience, he has used it to fight stigma and to illustrate that addiction can happen to anyone.
The three Clermont County Commissioners, Claire Corcoran, Ed Humphrey, and Dave Painter, and several members of the Clermont County Opiate Task Force who were at the conference attended the luncheon at which the award recipients were recognized.
The CARES Awards were presented to first responders and front-line workers who have gone above and beyond in helping individuals, families and their community to deal with the adverse effects of Ohio’s opiate epidemic. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss, RecoveryOhio Director Alisha Nelson, OACBHA President Elaine Georgas, and OACBHA CEO Cheri L. Walter presented the awards.
With a registered attendance of more than 1,200 individuals, Ohio’s 2019 Opiate and Other Drug Conference: Promoting Solutions to Addiction Throughout Ohio is one of the premier events in Ohio addressing issues related to opiates and other drugs.
Detective Bill Brewer, 42, a Clermont County deputy sheriff, lost his life in the line of duty on Feb. 2.
Here is the latest information we have:
Services: Family and friends are invited to a public visitation from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Mount Carmel Christian Church, 4110 Bach Buxton Road, Batavia, OH 45103, under the direction of E.C. Nurre Funeral Home in Amelia. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Interment will follow at Pierce Township Cemetery.
Visitation parking: Primary parking will be available at West Clermont High School 4-8 p.m. Thursday. Parking WILL NOT be available at West Clermont Middle School because of parent/teacher conferences.
Overflow parking is available at Pierce Point Cinema 10 (1255 Ohio Pike). Clermont Transportation Connection will run shuttles between the theater parking lot and the church, starting at 4 p.m.
Where to view funeral: Crossroads East Side, next to Jungle Jim’s, is opening its auditorium Friday so that the public can view Detective Brewer’s services. The church will open its doors at 9 a.m. Friday, with screening expected to start at 11 a.m.
The auditorium and performing arts center at West Clermont High School and Middle School have been reserved for law enforcement officers and first responders. The public SHOULD NOT go there.
From home or office: WKRC Local 12, WLWT Channel 5, WXIX Fox 19, and WCPO Channel 9 will provide live broadcast coverage and streaming coverage of the funeral service. The Cincinnati Enquirer will provide live streaming coverage.
Clermont Public Library: All 10 library branches will live stream the funeral service beginning at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 8. The public is welcome.
Leaving from the church
Left onto Bach-Buxton
Left onto Clough
Left onto Main Street in Batavia
Merge onto West 32
Merge onto South I-275
Exit onto Beechmont Avenue (SR 125)
Right onto Merwin Ten Mile
Right onto Locust Corner Road
Enter into cemetery where transfer from the hearse to the horse-drawn caisson will take place; caisson will proceed to the grave.
Note: The American Legion is asking people to line the processional route with American flags.
Where to donate: The Bill Brewer Memorial Fund, to help Detective Brewer’s family, has been set up at Park National Bank. Individuals may drop off donations at any Park National branch or can mail a check to Bill Brewer Memorial Fund, Park National Bank, 1187 Ohio Pike, Amelia OH 45102.
Many county offices will be closed Friday. Read more here.
Feb. 6, 2019
Commissioner David Painter, President of the Board of County Commissioners, opened today’s session with these remarks about Detective Bill Brewer, who was killed in the line of duty Feb. 2:
On Saturday February 2nd, Deputy Nick DeRose and Deputy William Brewer responded along with Clermont County Special Response Team to a call for help from a 23 year old man. The two deputies sustained gunshot wounds as a result of their commitment to serve and protect the citizens of Clermont County. Lt. DeRose was later treated and released from the hospital, returning to work later that Sunday. Lt. DeRose was shot twice, once in the lower leg and another that struck his utility belt and protective vest preventing a life-threatening injury. He is a true testament to the resolve of the department. Detective William Brewer sustained life ending injuries as a result of his commitment to serve. I pray that Lt. DeRose has a speedy recovery.
Today, the Board of Clermont County Commissioners honor and mourn the loss of Detective William Brewer of the Clermont County Sheriff’s office. On behalf of the Board we extend our deepest condolences to Bill’s family and thank them for sharing him with us.
Bill and Nick spent over 20 years protecting and helping the citizens of Clermont County. On that Saturday, Bill along with his partner Lt. Nick DeRose, answered a call for help whereby Bill and Nick sustained gunshot injuries. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friend. Bill and Nick’s selfless courage goes well beyond God’s word in that they both were willing to lay down their lives for a man they did not know. Bill gave his life that evening in an effort to help. William Brewer was that kind of guy.
Bill was a son, a brother, a husband, a dad, and a beloved family member. He leaves behind his loving wife Jamie, his beloved son Braxton, his brother Michael, his parents Bill and Angie, his in-laws, his nieces, his nephews, his Clermont County Deputy family and all the citizens of Clermont County that he took an oath to protect.
There are a few professions whereby a man is required to commit his life to the protection of others. Bill was a Clermont County Deputy. Once a Deputy, always a Deputy. To the 200,000 residents of Clermont County, Bill will always be our Deputy.
To Bill’s wife and son, there are no words that I can speak to answer the question why such a tragedy as this is allowed to happen. For God’s plan is so vast that even if he were to show it to us, we wouldn’t understand it. Rest assured that there are two people that now understand his plan and one of them is Bill. May God comfort you in your time of loss. Our prayers are with you.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Feb. 6, 2019) – All Clermont County courts and many county offices will be closed Friday, Feb. 8, to allow employees to attend, view or participate in services for Sheriff’s Detective Bill Brewer, who lost his life in the line of duty on Feb. 2.
Sheriff’s Office: Administrative offices close at noon Thursday and all day Friday.
Common Pleas Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday. This also includes Probation, Law Library, and Court Services.
Juvenile Court/Probate Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday.
Prosecutor’s Office: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday.
Domestic Relations Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday. All hearings will be scheduled to the next available time.
Board of County Commissioners’ office, and departments including Water Resources Administration Building, Building Inspection, Permit Central, Job & Family Services, OhioMeansJobs/Clermont County, and Department of Community & Economic Development: Closed Friday.
Municipal Court: Closed Friday. Those who have an arraignment scheduled for Friday will be sent a new court date. They can also check the Clermontclerk.org website for updated information.
Common Pleas Clerk’s Office, Domestic Relations Clerk and all auto title offices: Closed Friday.
Public Defender’s Office: Closed Friday.
Auditor’s Office: Closed Friday.
Recorder’s Office: Closed Friday.
Engineer’s Office: Closed Friday.
Public Health: Closed Friday.
Coroner’s Office: Closed Friday; on call at 513.543.0129.
Some county offices will be open, including the Treasurer’s Office, which is accepting payments for first-half property taxes, which are due Feb. 13. The Municipal Clerk of Court Office will be open Friday. The Board of Elections office will be open Friday.
Bus service in Clermont County, including Dial-A-Ride, will operate normally.
The county website, www.clermontcountyohio.gov, has separate pages for each county office, including how to contact them. Check there if you have questions on whether an office is open or closed.
Services for Detective Brewer are as follows:
Family and friends are invited to a public visitation from 4-8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7, at Mount Carmel Christian Church, 4110 Bach Buxton Rd, Batavia, OH 45103, under the direction of E.C. Nurre Funeral Home in Amelia. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Interment will follow at Pierce Township Cemetery.
BATAVIA, Ohio – Today, Clermont County Commissioners join all the elected officials and employees of Clermont County in mourning a brave deputy sheriff who lost his life in the line of duty.
Commissioners extend their deepest condolences to the family of Clermont Sheriff’s Detective Bill Brewer, and thank him and Lt. Nick DeRose, who was injured, for their bravery.
On Saturday, Feb. 2, around 10:30 p.m., Detective Brewer and Lt. DeRose were shot by a male who had barricaded himself in his apartment in Pierce Township and was threatening to kill himself.
Detective Brewer, a 20-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was transported to Anderson Mercy Hospital, where he later died as a result of the gunshot wounds he sustained. Deputy Brewer is survived by his wife and a 5-year-old son.
Lt. Nick DeRose, a 22-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and was later released.
The suspect was taken into custody.
“There is no greater love than a man to lay down his life for a friend. Detective Brewer laid down his life in service for our citizens. Please lift his family up in prayer,” said Commissioner David Painter, President of the Board of County Commissioners. “Our deepest condolences go to the family of Detective Brewer, who bravely gave his life in the line of duty.
“We thank Lt. DeRose, whose injuries were, thankfully, not serious. We thank all the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and our local police departments and fire departments who responded throughout the night to work together to bring this situation under control.
“Our hearts are heavy today for this loss to our community. We send our prayers to the families of Detective Brewer and Lt. DeRose,” Commissioner Painter added.
Said Commissioner Ed Humphrey, Vice President of the BCC, “This is a sad day for Clermont County and for the brave men and women of our Sheriff’s Office. Every day, with courage and dedication, they go out into the community to keep us safe, never knowing what the day may bring. Today, it brought tragedy and a loss that is beyond understanding. We can’t thank Detective Brewer and his family enough for his ultimate sacrifice. God bless him, Lt. DeRose and our entire department of first responders.”
Commissioner Claire Corcoran said, “Words cannot adequately capture the grief in our hearts today. Detective Bill Brewer gave his life in the pursuit of protecting our community and Lt. Nick DeRose was wounded. How can we explain the shock and pain we feel at this terrible outcome? All we can really do is keep Detective Brewer and his family in our thoughts and prayers and hope that we never again experience this kind of tragic event.”
BATAVIA, Ohio – The Clermont County Opiate Task Force voted to oppose Issue 1 at its meeting on Oct. 11.
The task force is comprised of stakeholders representing county government, agencies and the courts (Commissioners, Clermont County Public Health, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB), Municipal Court Probation, Common Pleas Court Probation, Public Defender, Children’s Protective Services, County Sheriff); Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services; Clermont Mercy Hospital; law enforcement and fire/EMS departments; faith-based organizations and private citizens.
The Opiate Task Force’s statement declared: “The Clermont County Opiate Task Force (OTF) firmly believes that individuals with a substance use disorder benefit from treatment, and that recovery is possible. The OTF opposes this constitutional amendment because it does not address the problem as intended. Issue 1 polarizes the relationship between treatment and criminal justice, when in fact criminal justice and treatment work hand in hand to assist individuals with reaching recovery. Issue 1 will hinder the ability of the criminal justice system to work to assure that individuals who need treatment will receive it and maintain it. Along with the Clermont County Commissioners, our criminal justice partners, including the Clermont County Police Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association, and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, the OTF implores the Ohio General Assembly to immediately bring together a bipartisan coalition of concerned Ohioans to take action to address the issue of increased treatment services for offenders through a legislative solution, not a constitutional amendment. The OTF strongly encourages all community members to become well informed about Issue 1.”
At the meeting, a panel including Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride, Assistant Prosecutor Darren Miller, Sheriff Steve Leahy, Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter, and Karen Scherra, Executive Director of MHRB, spoke out against Issue 1 and detailed the impact it would have on the county courts, law enforcement and the County Jail, and taxpayers.
Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride noted that both Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges work with lesser offenders to get them into treatment instead of jail or prison. “The reality is that less and less F4s and F5s (felony offenders) go to prison every day,” he said. “For years now, the emphasis in drug possession has been on treatment.”
Karen Scherra of the Mental Health & Recovery Board said that although her board is in favor of legislative reforms, it opposes Issue 1. “We do not see treatment increasing under Issue 1,” she said. “It’s often the stick of criminal justice that gets people into treatment.” She noted that her board has worked closely with county partners in criminal justice as well as the Commissioners to come up with initiatives in the battle against the opioid problems in the county. “If this passes we will watch a system that we worked really hard to build up collapse,” she said.
On Oct.3, the Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Issue 1.
(This article was revised on Oct. 30, 2018.)
BATAVIA, Ohio (April 27, 2018) — In a Clermont County Common Pleas Court appearance on April 25, Mary Ann Belt, former executive assistant in Water Resources Department (WRD), agreed to repay Clermont County $10,841.65 for gift cards and other items inappropriately charged to a Lowe’s credit card.
Ms. Belt will also plead guilty to a fifth degree felony theft, according to Assistant County Prosecutor Katie Terpstra. The case has been continued until June 4.
Here is a timeline of events:
Ms. Belt was an executive assistant in the water department in 2016-17. Among her responsibilities was paying some of the water department invoices. Previously, she had worked in customer service in the same department since 2012.
Water Resources Director Lyle Bloom was notified on Oct. 19, 2017, by Duke Energy that several of the water department’s accounts with Duke were past due. The Clermont County Auditor’s Office had also alerted the water department that a number of late payments had been made to Duke.
Mr. Bloom investigated the past-due bills and found that Clermont County had paid approximately $10,000 in late payment charges over 2016-17 to Duke Energy. These particular accounts were the responsibility of Ms. Belt.
Other vendors she was responsible for were also paid late. Duke Energy was the only vendor that charged a late fee.
Ms. Belt had a disciplinary hearing, and was terminated by the county on Nov. 15, 2017, for failing to discharge her responsibilities correctly.
During this time, the Auditor’s Office and the water department worked together to ensure that all accounts that were past due were paid and that vendors would be paid in a timely manner going forward.
After her termination, Ms. Belt’s emails were forwarded to two other executive assistants in the department who assumed her responsibilities.
They noticed that a county credit card account at Lowe’s that was in Ms. Belt’s name had a number of gift cards on it. Further investigation found that she had opened up online a Lowe’s credit card for herself while she was opening cards for three water treatment employees.
A check of previous statements found that a total of $10,841.65 had been charged to Lowe’s that appeared to be for personal use, including gift cards.
In Clermont County, all spending on credit cards must be approved by a supervisor who sees an invoice. It appeared that Ms. Belt falsified invoices, or put in invoices twice.
Shortly after Ms. Belt was terminated, the county asked the Sheriff’s Office to investigate this matter. The results of the investigation were turned over to the Prosecutor’s Office. Ms. Belt was charged with felony theft and was indicted on Feb. 6, 2018.
Prior to the indictment, the office of the State Auditor began its annual audit of Clermont County. At the time, the office of the County Auditor informed the State Auditor that there was a case under investigation that involved possible misuse of county funds. In a separate meeting, the Auditor and Prosecutor’s Office met with the State Auditor’s representatives on this matter.
Mr. Bloom has instituted new practices in his department. All Lowe’s cards have been pulled. Supervisors must now match the hard-copy invoice to the screen invoice before approving.
In addition, most departments and offices in the county now use procurement cards, which have limits on the kinds of transactions, the number of transactions, and the monetary amount of transactions that can be made.
The investigation involved many county offices – Water Resources, the Office of Management and Budget, the County Auditor, the Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office – who worked diligently to address the matter.
“We took prompt action to terminate Ms. Belt’s employment once we discovered the pattern of late payments,” said County Administrator Tom Eigel. “And as soon as we detected other irregularities, we turned that information over to the Sheriff’s Office. We’re pleased that Ms. Belt has agreed to pay Clermont County restitution. I am confident that the practices instituted will help prevent a similar issue in the future.”
BATAVIA, Ohio – Interested in learning more about county government? Have you ever seen a K-9 team in action? Do you want to find out more about the county’s Opiate Task Force? If so, please join us in April during National County Government Month.
Clermont County will hold several open houses and activities during the month.
The public is invited and is asked to register at https://clermontcountyohio.gov//national-county-government-month or call Kathleen Williams at 513.732.7597, or email her at email@example.com.
Saturday, April 7
Celebrate the outdoors at Sycamore Park
10 a.m.-noon: Nest Fest at Sycamore Park. Learn how to identify bird eggs and nests, use your “owl eyes” for our egg hunt and meet birds of prey up close thanks to our friends at RAPTOR Inc.
Address: 4082 SR 132, Batavia
Meet your new pet
1-2 p.m.: Meet the folks at the Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society animal shelter, 4025 Filager Road, Batavia. The new managers of the animal shelter will talk about their philosophy and initiatives. You can also meet the dogs and cats available for adoption.
Address: 4025 Filager Road, Batavia
Thursday, April 12
Celebrating successes in the opiate epidemic fight
2-3:30 p.m.: Join Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force as it celebrates Ohio’s ‘A Week of Appreciation,’ Batavia Township Community Center. Learn more about the task force’s accomplishments, initiatives and resources as it thanks those who have been on the front lines of fighting this epidemic. Light refreshments.
Address: Batavia Township Community Center, 1535 Clough Pike, Batavia
Saturday, April 14
Rendezvous on the River
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Help the Clermont County Park District celebrate spring and National County Government Month with the season-opening event at Chilo Lock 34 Park. We’ll have food, fun and special guests on every floor of the Visitors Center from noon to 3 p.m. Enjoy the playground, hike the trails and watch the mighty Ohio River from the boat ramp or the observation deck all day long.
Address: 521 County Park Road, Chilo (off U.S. 52)
Thursday, April 19
Ensuring public health
2-3 p.m.: Public Health is more than just flu shots. Visit your Public Health officials at the Clermont County Public Health Nursing Division to see what it takes to protect the health of Clermont County and its residents.
Birth certificates, flu shots, septic system inspections, plumbing permits, restaurant inspections, WIC, free car seats for needy families, and reducing drug overdoses in the community are just a few of the things that Public Health does. Stop by for an open house and talk to your public health department.
Address: 2400 Clermont Center Drive, Suite 200, Batavia
Enforcing laws & protecting citizens
6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Tour the Sheriff’s Office. See the Crime Lab. In the parking lot, see a demonstration by the K-9 unit, and the Special Response Team – including a robot used in dangerous situations.
Address: 4470 SR 222, Batavia – please park in adjacent Municipal Court parking lot
Saturday, April 21
Spring Litter Clean-Up
This annual volunteer event is held in communities throughout Clermont County. Appreciate our county’s beauty? Volunteer to be part of this countywide event – whether in cities, townships and villages, along the Little Miami and East Fork, or at East Fork State Park. Find out more information here: https://www.springlittercleanup.com/. #GreenClermont
Tuesday, April 24
Protecting our water & environment
10-11:30 a.m.: Tour the Bob McEwen Water Treatment Plant and learn how water from Harsha Lake becomes drinking water. And learn more about how we are protecting our watershed from the Office of Environmental Quality and Soil & Water Conservation District. #GreenClermont
Address: 3960 Greenbriar Road, Batavia
4-6 p.m.: Learn about services offered by the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as well as other agencies in the Tri-State area that serve children and adults with disabilities. Members of the Clermont County Voices self-advocacy group will be available to give facility tours and answer questions about the challenges they have faced in their everyday lives.
Address: 2040 US Highway 50, Batavia
BATAVIA, Ohio (Nov. 28, 2017) – The installation of a Soter RS body scanner in July at the Clermont County Jail has led to a safer environment for both inmates and staff, according to Capt. Mike McConnell, chief of operations at the jail.
“Inmates always have and always will attempt to bring in items that they can’t have and are not permitted to have into the facility, whether it’s tobacco, drugs, weapons. And whether it’s in their body cavities, or their mouth, they will attempt to do it,” McConnell said. “That makes it very difficult for us to find it with normal pat searches and strip searches.”
Now, every inmate who is entering the jail – including trustees returning from outside assignments – must be scanned.
The scanner works similarly to an airport scanner, McConnell said. The inmate stands on a platform, which moves across a low-dose X-ray beam. Two hundred scans are the equivalent of an X-ray, he said.
Corrections officers go through training before they operate the scanner. They are trained to look for anomalies, McConnell said. Since the installation, officers have found lighters, heroin, and, in one case, a diamond ring.
When McConnell called the arresting officer to say they saw something that looked like a ring, the arresting officer told them it was evidence. The inmate had been charged in a breaking-and-entering, and had swallowed the ring.
The scanner cost approximately $187,000, and was paid for through the jail’s commissary fund. The commissary fund is generated by purchases made by inmates, and these funds have to be used for items that will benefit inmates, McConnell said.
“With the few things we’ve found already, we know that the body scanner has done its job,” he said.