Correctional leaders this week highlighted the Delaware Department of Correction’s strategy to detect and prevent contraband from entering correctional facilities as they demonstrated modern Millimeter Wave (MMw) technology whole-body imaging scanners that are being deployed system-wide beginning this month.
MMw scanners are a significant improvement over DOC’s existing scanning machines, officials noted. They utilize non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation — similar to wireless smartphones — to more effectively detect objects on or inside a person’s body. The technology, they said, is not only much more effective at detecting contraband, it is also safe, as MMw scanners do not expose personnel and visitors to any harmful radiation.
“DOC’s investment in advanced Millimeter Wave scanners arms us with 21st-century technology to meet 21st-century threats and to better support safety and security across our correctional system,” DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said.
MMw scanners located at staff and visitor entry points are just one element of DOC’s contraband mitigation program, which includes an extensive system of thousands of security cameras, use of drones for surveillance, K-9 detection teams and other intelligence-gathering resources.
Four weeks ago, Gov. John Carney joined DOC staff to open the DOC Intelligence Operations Center (IOC) to address a need for better communication and information-sharing within and across Delaware’s correctional facilities. DOC’s IOC taps into access to surveillance cameras, human intelligence, tips from employees, and other sources to gather information and synthesize it into concrete recommendations for action.
Unlike earlier versions of MMw scanners that were first deployed in airports, DOC’s new, upgraded scanners protect privacy by creating a generic “cartoon like” image that indicates where contraband is detected on an individual. Security staff who operate scanner machines do not see physical features of the person being scanned.
“Whether it’s drug contraband, dangerous weapons or devices intended to defeat security systems or aid in an escape attempt, they all present significant safety and security concerns for our people and our facilities,” Deputy Commissioner Monroe Hudson said. “This technology will greatly enhance our proactive efforts to keep them out and to hold those who may try to introduce illegal contraband into our prisons accountable for their actions.”
DOC has deployed five MMw scanner machines to gatehouse areas and is deploying four modern x-ray scanners to booking and receiving areas across its four Level V prison facilities. The machines have been funded with $1 million allocated to the DOC in the 2019-fiscal-year budget. DeMatteis this week recognized and thanked Correctional Officers Association of Delaware (COAD) President Geoff Klopp for leading the effort to secure the funding and also thanked Carney and members of the General Assembly for their strong support.