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HomeLocal NewsDrug dogs, body scanners coming to MCSO jails

Drug dogs, body scanners coming to MCSO jails

According to Sheriff Paul Penzone, from April through July, around 1,000 fentanyl pills were seized in Maricopa County jails.

PHOENIX — Between April and July, more than 1,000 fentanyl pills were seized in Maricopa County jails, Sheriff Paul Penzone said at a news conference on Wednesday to give updates on several issues inside county jails.

During that time, 32 arrests were made in drug-related seizures with 63 additional felony charges. Several cases remain under review and more charges are expected, according to Penzone.

Penzone said Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell is working with the sheriff’s office to combat the issue of drugs in the jails. She has assigned several prosecutors to “aggressively prosecute” anyone who brings drugs into jails, he said. 

Penzone shared updated numbers on drug-related incidents so far this year at county jails:

  • 8 drug-related deaths, but that number is expected to go up with the completion of medical examinations
  • 200 inmates have been taken to the hospital due to overdoses
  • 396 doses of the overdose drug Narcan were given to inmates by jail employees. Some individuals received more than one dose of the drug.

Body scanners

Body scanners are now in all jails and are fully functional, Penzone said.

The county has hired employees who will be specifically responsible for manning new property scanners in jails which are used to detect drugs and other contraband. Currently, a group of 10-12 employees are going through a training academy and should be ready to start working on Aug. 7, Penzone said. 

Drug dogs 

The county is adding four new drug detection dogs to jails. The sole purpose of the new K9 will be drug detection, they will not be utilized for other K9 tasks, according to Penzone. These new K9s will be specifically trained to recover drugs in Maricopa County jails.

Handlers for the dogs are undergoing training. Equipment for the dogs and their trainers had been ordered and is on the way.

The hope is the new unit will be fully functional by mid to late October, Penzone said.

Motor squad

Penzone also announced the sheriff’s office is adding a new motor squad unit after a 15-year absence.

Funding for the squad is coming from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. That funding paid for motorcycles and two Mustangs for the motor squad.

Penzone said there will be five motor deputies. They will be focusing on drag racing, reckless driving and other traffic-related issues.

These deputies should hit the streets sometime around mid-September, he said. 

Compliance and task force

During the news conference, Penzone also discussed the sheriff’s office’s compliance with Melendres compliance, which came about following a 2007 lawsuit that claimed the law enforcement agency was engaging in racial profiling.

Penzone said the sheriff’s office remains committed to compliance. He said the sheriff’s office is currently in compliance with 187 paragraphs in the order, and working to increase the number.

Penzone also touched on Fugitive Apprehension Task Force with the sheriff’s office. 

The task force works to get violent and dangerous criminals off the streets. It was instituted in 2017 and has recently made its 900th arrest, according to Penzone.

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