Kootenai County Commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to clear the way for purchasing a body scanner for the Kootenai County jail.
“I believe it would be extremely helpful, aiding the deputies in doing their job to make sure contraband does not make it into the secure area of the jail,” Kootenai County Commissioner Leslie Duncan said.
For several years, correction officers have asked the county to consider buying a body scanner that would detect drugs hidden in the body cavities of suspects booked into the Kootenai County jail.
“All three commissioners agreed to go through with a Request For Proposal,” Kootenai County Commissioner Bill Brooks said. “This is the most pressing need that’s come before the county that wasn’t in the normal budget.”
Bootlegging illegal drugs, weapons or prohibited items into a jail is a felony that can add five years to a prison sentence.
Jail smuggling has hovered around three cases per month over the past couple years — but those are only the ones that are discovered.
Last year, 35 cases were reported, and a year earlier 33 cases were charged, according to the sheriff’s office. There were 46 cases in 2017.
Undersheriff Dan Mattos said jails in Idaho that employ body scanners, such as in Ada County, find them indispensable. Once inmates learn they must pass through a body scanner, they often voluntarily give up contraband, according to Ada County Sheriff Stephen Bartlett.
“The need for a body scanner in the jail cannot be overstated,” Mattos said.
“We’ve started the process,” Kootenai County Commissioner Chris Fillios said. “Basically the sheriff’s association can solicit three competitive bids and then we can make a decision based on funding.”
Commissioners expect the sheriff’s office to support funding for the scanner.
Commissioners also allocated up to $40,000 to the Post Falls Police Department, securing PFPD participation in patrolling the Spokane River alongside Kootenai County Marine Deputies this boating season.
“$25,000 was calculated as necessary,” Duncan said. “We’ve allocated $40,000 to give extra patrol on certain weekends. I want to make sure they have enough funding in case we have a hot June or there are other extra times they need help.”
County Ordinance 6-2-4 covers vessel operations on the Spokane River. Per the ordinance, the speed limit on the Spokane River is 35 mph during daylight hours and 25 mph at night. A no-wake zone exists within 100 feet of a dock, shoreline, or structure. Boaters need to be traveling at a speed no greater than 5 mph and create no wake in that zone. The county will also place buoys on the river to catch boaters’ attention.
“I think there will be 60 of them,” Brooks said. “We are trying to take a graduated approach to controlling dangerous and damaging traffic on the river. Instead of shutting the river down, or declaring this or declaring that, we’re trying to begin with education. We want people to enjoy the river.”
Cooperation between the PFPD and the county marine deputies will help with enforcement and education, according to the county.
In other news, Nick Synder, director of Kootenai County Parks and Waterways, effectively took over snow grooming for the county as snow grooming operations manager Dave Bonasera stepped down.
Bonasera groomed snowmobile trails within the county several times per week. The county will be hiring seasonal employees to do that work, Duncan said.
“It's been a big day at Kootenai County,” Brooks said, as commissioners wrapped up their work.