Marion County Sheriff’s Department improves officer safety with new body scanner

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Det. Ryan Lawzano stands beside the new scanner at the Marion County Sheriff's Department, which will help officers monitor what inmates bring into the building. | Megan Duncan

PALMYRA, Mo. — Officers at the Marion County Sheriff’s Department underwent training this week on new safety equipment, which will provide an in-depth look at what is brought into the building.

The department recently received a Tek 84 Intercept, a full body scanner that detects both metallic and nonmetallic threats. Similar to an airport scanner, the scanner produces a low-radiation x-ray image in less than five seconds. 

Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn said the scanner will save officers or staff from conducting as many hands-on searches to make sure incoming inmates are not carrying weapons, drugs or other contraband. 

The Marion County Jail houses an average of 94 inmates. Shinn said officers bring anywhere from two to 10 new inmates per day. All incoming inmates, whether new or returning from court, are searched.

“Unfortunately, in the day and age that we live in, people come in with mainly drugs hidden within their bodies,” he said. “This (scanner) will hopefully help prevent some of that from getting into our population, which creates a whole lot of problems for us, as you can imagine.”

Officers can scan prisoners in the building who are rumored to have a concealed weapon or new inmates whom officers couldn’t fully search in the heat of the moment at their arrest.

“One of the biggest reasons that we went after this is the safety aspect of it for the officers in the facility here,” Shinn said. “The street officers do the best job that they can, but sometimes when they arrest an individual, there might be a fight and they try to get them in here as fast as they can — and we understand that. So we’ll get them in here — still in their cuffs — search them and still find weapons and drugs on them. We have never had an incident where an officer was hurt from a knife or gun brought into our jail facility, and we want to continue that.”

Shinn said all inmates coming into the building will be scanned other than those who are, or suspected to be, pregnant.

The scanner was funded through a grant from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Det. Ryan Lozano wrote for the grant for the total cost of $156,940.

Shinn estimated the jail will begin using the scanner next week after rules and procedures are implemented

The image produced by the scanner is a high-quality low-radiation x-ray to detect metal or non-metal items. (This image was used for training purposes and is not of a person at the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.) | Megan Duncan

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