K-9 Officers Help Detect Illegal Cell Phones In Prisons

The dogs are trained to sniff out cell phone materials, batteries and SIM cards to keep the devices from entering the state's prisons.

Police dog

Photo: Bill Shaw / WTIU News

Trained K-9 officers are helping stop cell phone trafficking in the state's prisons.

Indiana Department of Corrections officials say a K-9 pilot program is reducing cell phone trafficking in the state’s prisons.

It’s been so successful the DOC says it plans to implement the program in as many prisons as possible by the end of the year.

Inmates are not allowed to have cell phones while incarcerated. Yet police confiscated more than 2,000 devices from correctional facilities across the state in 2012.

The Cell Phone Detection K-9 Program was started in the fall of 2013 due to the high volume of cell phone trafficking cases. Indiana Department of Corrections spokesperson Doug Garrison says unmonitored cellular communication by prisoners is dangerous.

“It’s very difficult for us to completely stop the trafficking of cell phones into our prisons,” says Garrison, “so we’re taking even more steps now than we have before, which involved conducting searches of visitors, conducting searches of staff. But sometimes these cell phones get in anyway.”

Officers have been collecting anywhere between 50 and 60 cell phones during monthly sweeps of inmates’ cells. But Garrison says that number will likely begin declining as the K-9 officers detect phones before they even make it into the prisons.

The dogs used in the program are donated to the Department of Corrections and are trained to detect the phones based off the smell of the materials, batteries and SIM cards used in cellular devices.

“In a couple of our facilities, we have actually instituted a program where these dogs are assigned full time to detect cell phones through searches,” says Garrison. “we’ve had great success with that so far.”

The police dogs are currently assigned at the Pendleton, Wabash Valley and New Castle correctional facilities.

Emily Wright

Emily, an Indianapolis native, joined WFIU/WTIU in 2013 as Producer of Noon Edition. She studied Telecommunications and Liberal Arts Management at Indiana University.

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  • DutchS

    Where you really need to sniff is the incoming guards at each shift change. That’s how tons of contraband gets in.

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