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February 8, 2023

Body scanner bolsters safety at Main Jail

SANTA CRUZ—The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office installed a new body scanner Tuesday at the intake area of the Main Jail to help snare contraband before it is brought in. 

The Tek84 scanner, which is similar to those used at airports to screen travelers, provides a high-resolution scan of the body. Once a person stands inside a booth and the scanner is switched on, it will show a clear image of the person and detect if that person is carrying weapons, narcotics, notes and other items hidden in body cavities or elsewhere. 

“I have no doubt catching drugs and other contraband before they are brought into the jail will save lives,” said Sheriff Jim Hart.

On Thursday members of the media were invited inside the jail to watch as a team of deputies were shown how to use the device, thanks to trainer Cecilia Park from San Diego County.

Lt. Dan Freitas said every person being admitted to the jail will have to undergo the four-second scan. An average of 25 people per day—9,100 a year—are booked into the jail.

“It can also be used to search inmates’ possessions such as backpacks,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Dee Baldwin.

Since the activation of the Tek84 on Wednesday, it has already found a cigarette lighter sewn into an inmate’s pants and a “kite,” a note used by inmates to spread information, Freitas said.

“This scanner will significantly reduce risk to our personnel and inmates here at the jail,” Freitas said. “Narcotics and weapons coming into this facility has always been a major concern.”

According to sheriff’s spokeswoman Ashley Keehn, the county is leasing to own the scanner, which comes with a $174,591 price tag that was included in this year’s budget.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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