XENIA — Greene County Jail now has a body scanner.
Lukas Richter and Don McIlroy of OD Security North America installed the U.S. manufactured system — called the SOTER RS Full Body Security Scanning System — May 31 in the sally port of the jail.
This specific low-energy, low-dose technological system is the fifth that Richter and McIlroy have installed in Ohio. These units have been used in the U.S. since 2006, but are relatively new to Ohio, the first making its appearance in the state in 2014.
So far, the two have installed nearly 50 machines in 19 states.
“Ohio will be our biggest client,” Richter said, stating that other counties have also placed orders for the model.
Richter attributes the spike of installations as directly related to the heroin epidemic.
“Of course that contraband finds its way into the jails,” he said.
According to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, inmates will be escorted to the sally port for a scan and will enter the jail once they are cleared.
To complete a scan, individuals will step on the system’s platform, facing away from the machine, and stand still as the platform slides from one side to the other. An image will appear on the screen within 10 seconds, revealing any densities or abnormalities.
“It can detect any item that is on or inside the human body — organic, inorganic, metal, non-metallic,” Richter said. This includes weapons, cell phones, explosives and drugs.
Richter compared the scan to a medical X-ray, but with much lower energy.
According to Richter, one scan is equivalent to 15 bananas using the Banana Equivalent Dose (BED) measurement.
“The potassium level in bananas is radioactive,” Richter said.
In other terms, one dose of radioactivity an individual is exposed to during a scan is the equivalent to the dose of radioactivity an individual is exposed to from eating 15 bananas.
“You get exposed to more natural radiation — about 10 times more — when you sleep next to somebody for eight hours,” Richter added, explaining the safety level of the technology.
Other safety regulations of the SOTER RS include licensing with the Ohio Health Department, and regulation standards by the Food and Drug Administration, which allows a certain amount of dosage of radiation. A threshold within the system alerts the operator when a specific individual has reached the highest value.
The installation of the body scanner in Greene County Jail comes after several recent overdoses and one inmate death in March, although the sheriff has been pushing for a body scanner for several years.
“The heroin epidemic is so bad that we’ve got to protect the people from themselves in the jail,” Fischer said. “We hope that this machine will help people.”
Fischer said the $118,750 machine was purchased after making adjustments to the office’s budget.
Major Kirk Keller, who is also the jail administrator, said he anticipates the machine to also be an indirect help because of inmates’ medical expenses.
“Not only is it helping to save lives, but it is also helping to reduce costs for taxpayers that are carrying the burden,” he said.
SOTER RS operation training will begin the morning of June 1 for jail staff.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.