Crime & Courts

Scanner will cut down on jail strip searches

A full-body imaging unit, similar to the ones used in many airports, has been installed at the entrance to the booking desk at the Sedgwick County Jail.

Sheriff Bob Hinshaw said Thursday that the unit, which went into use this week, would sharply cut down on the number of strip searches performed by detention deputies.

"In the end, we're going to have a safer jail for both the staff and the inmates," he said.

Hinshaw said the scanner, which cost $143,000, was purchased with profits from inmate telephone calls. No tax dollars were used, he said.

Instead of conducting an intrusive and time-consuming strip search, he said, deputies using the scanner can perform a thorough search in about a minute.

During a demonstration of the device, detention Cpl. J.D. Anderson said the unit is sensitive enough to pick up a toothpick stuck to the bottom of a shoe.

"You can see every little crevice — everything that's not supposed to be there," he said.

He said it was not unusual for incoming inmates to have contraband hidden in their clothing.

"We've seen knives, we've seen guns, we've seen drugs," he said. "We've seen it all."