Body scanners installed, more K9s coming to Phoenix jails as contraband remains an issue

Aug 3, 2023, 10:07 AM | Updated: 10:19 am

officer and a K9 walking inside a Phoenix jail...

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — The installation of body scanners at Phoenix jails is complete and drug-detections dogs are on the way as law enforcement looks for more ways to deter contraband.

With the smuggling of drugs overwhelming facilities, the new jailhouse body scanners will review all employees and volunteers prior to beginning their day.

“They are all in the jails now, they are all installed and they are all functional,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said during a press conference on Wednesday.

“The step that we’re in right now is we hired employees who are going to be specifically responsible for managing the scanners.”

Penzone said a group of 10-12 employees are going through a training academy and are projected to enter the field on Monday.

“Although we have the equipment at each jail, we’re going to start going jail-by-jail on staffing to get to make sure we can work out any challenges and kinks. We want to be as fluid as possible getting our employees into the workspace, not held up in the scanner space,” he said.

What other efforts are being made to lower the amount of contraband entering jails?

Penzone said the sheriff’s office is in the final stages of acquiring four new drug-detection dogs, which will only be used to recover drugs from the jail cells. The four canines won’t be used to search inmates when they are being booked.

“They’re just going to be specifically trained to recover drugs in the jails. Right now, we have selected our canine handlers and they are going through their training. We have all the equipment for it,” Penzone said.

The sheriff said he hopes to have the canine unit fully functional by mid- to late-October.

Here’s an update on drugs entering Phoenix jails in 2023

“From March until July, we have seized over 1,000 fentanyl pills, 32 individuals have been charged with 63 additional felony charges, and we still have a lot of cases under review,” Penzone said.

Over 200 inmates have been hospitalized due to overdoses, with the medical examiner ruling eight as drug-related deaths.

There has also been an increase in the amount of administered Narcan, which is a medicine that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose.

More than 396 doses of Narcan have been administered this year, more than double the 172 doses administered in 2022.

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Body scanners installed, more K9s coming to Phoenix jails as contraband remains an issue