Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone says installation of drug-scanning machines is close

Apr 11, 2023, 4:35 AM

PHOENIX — Installation is close on the machines that will detect for drugs and other contraband going in and out of Maricopa County jails, Sheriff Paul Penzone said Monday.

Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show the machines are being shipped to the five jails, good timing for an agency that has continued to see overdoses and drug smuggling attempts since the initiative was announced in January.

“Anybody, everybody who might be considering bringing contraband, we should have a high standard to prevent that from happening,” Penzone said.

As recently as a few days ago, MCSO incidents with overdoses and drug confiscations from new inmates have happened.

On Friday, seven inmates were hospitalized after apparently overdosing on fentanyl at the Estrella Jail.

MCSO also announced earlier in the week that it seized 100 blue pills believed to be fentanyl from an inmate during processing.

The decision to install machines was announced in January after a detention officer was arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle pills into the Lower Buckeye Jail.

“I just feel like if you’re truly committed to a drug-free jail, which isn’t attainable or realistic, you can mitigate by being thoughtful and committed to the fact that it has to be everybody and it’s not just our employees,” Penzone said.

A special response team will randomly go into units “very aggressively” in search of drugs, according to Penzone.

Penzone added that in the lead-up to the installation of machines, MCSO has increased its searches of jail pods and employ other mitigation measures.

“We have upped the volume of searches that we’re doing and we try to conduct very thorough reviews of inmates coming through to try to get the drugs out of them before they inside the jail,” Penzone said.

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Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone says installation of drug-scanning machines is close