Jail Officials Expand Training on Use of Body Scanners

The problem may not have been the machines but a lack of training.

A trash can near the downtown courthouses. (Brian Burk)

Top officials at the Multnomah County Jail told county commissioners at a Sept. 12 briefing that they’re expanding staff training in the use of body scanners at the county’s jails.

The X-ray scanners were installed in the fall of 2019, but the sheriff’s office just became aware of a certification program that allows staff to train co-workers how to use them.

In the wake of an unprecedented six inmate deaths earlier this year, Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell said the scanners had proven ineffective at detecting fentanyl being smuggled into the jails, and some of the deaths may have been drug related (“Cell Death,” WW, Aug. 16). The problem, however, may not have been the machines but a lack of training.

The jail brought in the company that services the scanners to provide staff training a few weeks ago at the county’s Inverness Jail in East Portland. Chief Deputy Stephen Reardon told county officials it’s already proving effective. Deputies are finding more contraband.

“We are seeing a difference,” he said.

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