July 27, 2010
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Drug Interdiction Unit dog Razor alerts on a vehicle during training by Canine Inspector Roberts.
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Corrections has more than doubled from 8 to 20 the number of drug and contraband interdiction K-9 teams patrolling its prisons during the last year.
“I am committed to stopping the introduction of contraband into our prisons and these drug and cell-phone sniffing dogs and our prison inspectors have been instrumental in deterring this activity,” said Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil during a press conference in West Palm Beach on Tuesday. “Whether the contraband is weapons, drugs or cell phones, they pose a threat to the security of every prison and to the safety of every officer and inmate.”
The Drug Interdiction Units, which are part of the Department’s Inspector General’s Office, conduct unannounced visits to the Department’s 146 prison facilities statewide, where the dogs sniff for drugs and weapons in the parking lots, and for cell phones, drugs, weapons and other contraband inside the facilities. Each of the Department’s four regions have five drug dog/inspector teams, which includes two dogs (Uno and Razor) trained specifically to detect cell phones.
Over the last two Fiscal Years, these Contraband/Drug Interdiction Units have recovered from prisons statewide 57 gallons of alcohol, 6,992 gram of cannabis, 728 grams of cocaine and 337 cell phones and cell phone accessories including chargers, SIM cards and MP3 players. Inmates use cell phones to conduct criminal enterprises from prisons and to plan escapes. They have legitimate phone access in prison, but they are aware those calls are monitored.
Outside the prison walls, the Drug Interdiction Teams have found a total of 49 firearms in vehicles in prison parking lots over the last two fiscal years. It is illegal to bring firearms onto state prison grounds. They have also been involved in the arrests, or filing of criminal charges, against 106 individuals on drug related charges as a result of these interdictions and contraband-related investigations. They also conducted more than 11,000 drug device scans on staff, visitors and inmates.
Correctional Officer Inspector Supervisor Kevin Dean said all the new canine inspectors and interdiction inspectors were selected from within the agency, and some of them already have some canine experience because they were part of their institutional canine tracking programs previously. Each new canine inspector is undergoing an extensive Field Training Officer period, and will be partnered with a veteran canine inspector within their assigned region.
The $300,000 cost for the additional dogs, vehicles, equipment and training came from Departmental operating funds.