The Arkansas Department of Correction had a multi-faceted problem. It was dealing with “some serious issues inside the prisons.” Instances of contraband were high. At the same time, its existing body scanner technology was failing the department.
“The technology was already antiquated when we got it, and it didn’t take long until we couldn’t get parts anymore for them,” said Arkansas Department of Correction Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Major Randy Shores. “They were actually broken more than they were working by this time.”
Frustrated by limited success with its scanners, the ADC also recognized it needed some course of action to curtail its contraband issues and slow the smuggling of weapons, drugs and cell phones into the prison facilities.
The Arkansas Department of Correction had procured a handful of surplus backscatter technology scanners from the federal government following the Transportation Security Administration’s upgrade to new technology.
As those machines aged poorly, the department found them to be more trouble than they were worth. The decision to be made was whether to raise funds for new scanners or to simply eliminate scanners altogether.
In the interim, a Smiths Heimann GmbH baggage scanner at one ADC facility stopped working. Shores needed to replace the scanner, but wanted to use a different company because he had been unhappy with his experience using Smiths Detection.
Through a partnership with Grainger, Shores was introduced to ADANI and the ADC replaced its baggage scanner with an ADANI model.
Pleased with the buying experience, Shores decided that, if the department opted to update its X-ray scanners, it would use ADANI to do so.
“We liked the experience we got, so we started talking about X-ray machines,” Shores said.
Shores did some additional research on ADANI and was impressed to find ADANI had their technology deployed within the federal prison system.
“If they’re good enough for them, they’re good enough for us,” Shores added.
The ADC then set out to procure funding for new ADANI X-ray scanners. Initially, the Governor’s office funded a pair of CONPASS DV + DruGuard® scanners.
Within three weeks of installing the new ADANI CONPASS DV scanners, the Arkansas Department of Correction had its first significant “hit.” An officer was caught attempting to smuggle items into a penitentiary.
Spurred by the success of the ADANI scanners, the ADC added six additional units, bringing the total to eight across the state, with one at each maximum-security facility as well as another unit at a facility where inmates come and go daily to an on-site industrial complex.
Shores confirms the X-ray scanners are a significant part of a policy plan that has effectively addressed some of the major problems the department was facing. That plan requires visitors to first get biometrically enrolled. Then, they must pass any bags through a scanner before moving past the X-ray machine. Finally, they must pass a cell phone detector and a pat search.
“We have seen a drop in contraband,” Shores said. “We’ve done other things, but the X-ray machines have definitely been part of that. I don’t know how many visitors we’ve turned away because of the X-ray machines, because they simply can’t pass the machines.”
In addition to catching and preventing smuggled items, and perhaps just as importantly, the X-ray machines are a major deterrent to visitors and staff who may consider trying to sneak contraband into an ADC facility.
“If you come into our facilities as a visitor and you can’t pass the X-ray machine, you have two choices: You can either go home or be arrested,” Shores explained. “So, they pretty much go home. I can’t tell you how many of those we’ve turned around on visitation weekend. The X-ray machine is a really good tool.”
The X-ray machines’ benefits extend beyond visitors, though.
“We’ve also seen a change in the way our staff deals with the entrance procedures,” Shores said. “They take it a lot more seriously, including what they can bring in and what they can’t bring in. It slows us down and makes us do a better job.”
“It also makes us look at who we’re putting in certain areas to work these machines because we realize we want our best officers out there doing that. It has changed a lot in the department just because of having them.”
Shores and the ADC also think the X-ray machines will continue to increase in utility, thanks in large part to the customer service side of ADANI.
“They built a really good tool, but they’re always looking to make it better by listening to the people in the field who are using it,” Shores said.
As the ADC learned about all the things the CONPASS DV + DruGuard® could do, they recognized a few things they wished it could do, but couldn’t – at least not yet.
“The technology is great. It’s state of the art and done everything they told us it would do,” Shores said. “There are some ways we felt we could make it better and they worked with us to help do that.”
ADANI continues to work with the ADC to further customize the machine’s platform software, including a feature for supervisor passwords and two-person authorization. Shores also appreciated the honesty of ADANI when it came to things the machine simply couldn’t do.
“They have an openness to work with us on what the software will do,” Shores said. “We learned there were other things the machine couldn’t do, and the company said, ‘We’ll work on that.’ That’s the kind of customer service you don’t see a lot, where you actually partner with a company and when you tell them what you want, they’re honest about ‘we can’t make it do that.’”
The Arkansas Department of Correction needed to curb a worsening contraband problem. Its existing body scanners were failing to adequately address the issue, so the department turned to the ADANI CONPASS DV + DruGuard®.
Not only have the ADANI scanners helped mitigate the contraband, the customer service ADC received from ADANI has encouraged the department to incorporate additional ADANI products into its overall security plan. And Shores would recommend anyone else do the same.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “That goes for baggage scanners, too. I’m in the process of rolling all our stuff over to ADANI just because of the experience I’ve had with the company. I’ve dealt with other companies, but I haven’t received anywhere near the level of service that I’ve got from ADANI.”
Shores has approached and been approached by many vendors, but one company stands above the rest for him.
“A lot of companies sell a lot of things,” he said. “There are a lot of X-ray companies out there. Everybody will sell you a pie-in-the-sky dream when you’re in the correctional world. I get lots of calls from lots of vendors. It seems like everything they want to sell me is the greatest, best ever. I can say one of the things I appreciated about ADANI is that they didn’t come at me that way. They told me upfront what this equipment was capable of. They told me what their level of support would be with it. They haven’t tried to sell me a pipe dream that this is going to stop all the contraband in the world. We’ve worked together to help me build a program to manage my contraband.”