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Alberta introduces body scanner to boost safety at Edmonton jail

Technology can identify drugs hidden in hair, weapons strapped to leg
| www.cos-mag.com
body scanner
Minister Ganley discusses body scanner technology with Ken Johnston, director of security at the Edmonton Remand Centre and Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. Government of Alberta

Body-scanner technology is being tested at the Edmonton Remand Centre over the next year as part of a pilot project.

The goal of the project is to protect staff and inmates by preventing illegal drugs and contraband from entering the facility.

The pilot project will use a body scanner, similar to those at airports, to help identify illegal and dangerous items that incoming inmates may attempt to bring into the centre. The scanner can identify items on the body, such as a packet of drugs hidden in hair or a weapon strapped to a leg, as well as foreign objects in body cavities.

“The safety and security of staff, inmates, and visitors at the Edmonton Remand Centre is paramount. Over the next year, we will evaluate how effective this technology is in preventing illicit drugs, dangerous substances and weapons from entering and jeopardizing the health and safety of those who enter this facility,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley.

The scanner will support other security measures already in place such as drug detection dogs, searches, intelligence gathering and regular scheduled rounds and checks.

Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, is pleased the province is introducing this technology.

“The well-being of our members is vital,” he said. “The scanner is an effective tool to help aid in the detection of contraband that can enter correctional facilities and pose risks to correctional peace officers, health-care workers, inmates and others.”

Staff training continues on the body scanner, and it is expected to be fully operational by Dec. 1st. The effectiveness of the body scanner will be evaluated a year after that. When the pilot project is over, government will decide whether body-scanner technology will be introduced to other provincial correctional facilities.

“The staff is very pleased to have this technology at the Edmonton Remand Centre. The scanner is a part of a toolbox of security measures that will improve our ability to maintain safety for all those who work and live at the centre,” said Ken Johnston, director of security, Edmonton Remand Centre. “We are looking forward to making this a part of our daily operations.”

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