Wright County staff will soon have a new tool to help keep contraband, like matches and lighters used to set fires, out of their jail. It’s thanks to some help from the Transportation Security Administration.

After a half dozen fires at the Wright County jail this year, the sheriff is relieved to know they are now approved to receive a surplus TSA body scanner. It’s been just more than three weeks since the last jail fire, actually two in two days.

Sheriff Glenn Adler says, “We finally got all our prisoners back 2 weeks ago today.”

Sheriff Adler says inmates have been setting the fires, by apparently smuggling in lighters and matches. “They’re searched, but if you have it inside you, we’re not going to catch that,” Adler says.

It’s been costly to farm out inmates to other jails and clean up the damage. Adler believes the body scanner they’re about to get will pay for itself. “I know it will if it does what it says it’s supposed to do,” says Adler.

“Whatever they can do to make it better, do it,” says Wright County resident Ronnie Sawyers.

Adler says the Christian County Sheriff gave him the tip that the TSA may have surplus scanners. “I’m pretty lucky; I appreciate Sheriff Cole telling me that,” Adler says.

Adler says he called Congressman Jason Smith’s office, which got him in touch with the TSA, and he just learned the agency will give Wright county the $160,000 machine.

“It’ll pick up anything inside the body,” Adler says. The county will only pay about $10,000 for paperwork and installation, plus the shipping cost.

“I think it’s a good idea. I like the people here at the department. They try to do a good job; that really do, and if it helps them in their work in preventing fires, it’s a good thing,” says Wright County resident Al Melton.

The sheriff is hopeful that they’ll be able to complete all the paperwork and actually get the body scanner here to Hartville in the next couple of weeks.

Congressman Jason Smith says, “After hearing about the damage the Wright County jail sustained, we wanted to do whatever we could to help get them back up and running,” said Congressman Smith. “Sheriff Adler asked for help with how to get extra TSA body scanners that were no longer in use. I’m glad we were able to assist with that request and return the Wright County Jail to full working order quickly and cost effectively.”

By Linda Russell | KY3