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New body scanner aims to decrease drugs entering La Crosse County Jail

New body scanner aims to decrease drugs entering La Crosse County Jail

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La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office unveiled a body scanner Thursday it hopes will decrease the amount of contraband smuggled into the jail.

“Due to the ever-increasing issues we have seen with contraband being smuggled into the county jail and the serious liability of having inmates with contraband, we decided that we needed to do something to make our inmates safer and the liability on the county much lower,” said Sheriff Jeff Wolf.

The SoterRS Body Scanner cost about $118,000 and was slated to be purchased in 2020, but the county board decided the matter was urgent, Wolf said.

Body Scanner 2

The purchase of a new body scanner at the La Crosse County Jail is aimed at reducing the amount of contraband smuggled into the facility.

The scanning process takes only a few seconds, Wolf said, and will lead to a safer jail.

Wolf said not everyone who went to jail was strip searched; previous measures were based on suspicion, probable cause and state statutes, which limited the sheriff’s office.

There are two types of searches conducted on people entering the jail.

“A strip search is only a search of the outside of the body. A body cavity search is more invasive and can only be done by a medical professional [at a hospital],” said La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke — which creates problems because body cavities are common hiding places for drugs.

Body Scanner 3

La Crosse County Sheriff's Office staff demonstrate how to use the jail's new body scanner.

“The scanner will allow the jail to see if people are bringing in drugs without using a more invasive procedure. It will also avoid a person suffering the indignity of body cavity searches unnecessarily,” Gruenke said.

While inmates do forfeit some of their rights, Gruenke said, “the scanner strikes a balance between ... individual rights and the need for safety within the jail.”

Sheriff Wolf said all staff will be trained to use the scanner but, as of now, only 20 staff members are trained to use it.


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