Sheriffs pitched mail screening machine in wake of Allen County incident

Sheriff's Department staff tryout a jail mail screening machine.

 

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) Several area sheriffs and jail staff members gathered in Whitley County Wednesday morning to listen to a presentation about a new mail screening machine.

“As long as we have the addictions to the opioids, we’re going to continue to have new ways to try to introduce it into jail facilities,” Whitley County Sheriff Marc Gatton said.

The mail sorting process at jails is under scrutiny as people outside find new ways to get dangerous chemicals into the hands of inmates.

“It’s like we’re behind the 8 ball all the time, always trying to keep up,” LaGrange County Sheriff Jeff Campos added. “Companies like this, they’re lifesavers.”

The company is ChemImage and the machine VeroVision analyzes mail by using lightwaves to find dangerous or illegal substances, like heroin or meth hidden in and on envelopes and adhesives. Some drugs are even hidden in ink, printed from a cartridge. The computer also helps jails take notes to track down senders.

“I don’t believe Indiana has any current machine in this state,” Gatton explained. “Hopefully somebody in the room could be the stepping stone in Indiana.”

An officer from Allen County was in the room listening to pitch.  It was back in November, when a paper laced with Fentanyl caught fire and sent 35 jail staff members to the hospital. It was the main reason behind today’s discussion.

“The inmates, somehow someway, they always try to get stuff in,” Campos said. “If we can stay a step ahead of them, that’s more in our favor in keeping everybody safe.”

NewsChannel 15 asked the ChemImage representative what a machine would cost a department. He said the cost would depend on the department and funding sources.