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How Arkansas jails remain safe while booking inmates

Dozens of people are arrested and booked into jail daily. And officers in Arkansas are working hard to make sure everyone is kept safe during that process.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In Arkansas, dozens of people are arrested and booked into jail on a daily basis. 

For officers, the process of doing pat-downs and paperwork can become tedious and within the last few weeks, we've seen how that process can become dangerous and even deadly.

An arrest that's made on the streets usually ends at the nearest detention center. 

"You're looking at an average of about 50 individuals that are booked daily," said Alan Aldridge, Captain of Intake with Pulaski County Sheriff's Department.

With so many people that enter the jail every day, Captain Aldridge said it is crucial for his staff to pay close attention when someone is getting booked.

"There have been a couple of times where things have gotten in," Aldridge described.

Over the past few years, guns, knives and contraband have been among some of the things he's seen make their way inside the secure facility.

Aldridge mentioned that although certain things have made their way inside the jail, thankfully nothing has happened because of it. Which is thanks to several protocols officers must do as a part of the intake process.

When detainees are first being booked, they are pat searched head to toe.

"They're checking on weapons, they're checking for any other contraband that they may have on their body," Aldridge said.

Recently, Perry County detention officer Jeremiah Story was shot and killed by an inmate during the intake process. According to authorities, the suspect had the gun when he entered the building.

"We're humans and the possibility does exist that something can be overlooked [and] something that can be missed," said Gary McClain, major operations commander with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

He stated that an officer should do a pat-down search when someone is arrested. Once they are inside the detention center, detainees are then supposed to undergo another pat-down search.

That extra step was added to prevent the unthinkable from happening there.

"As an added layer of protection, understanding that my fellow officer may have overlooked something, it could be because of tiredness or complacency," McClain said. 

Aldridge added that redundancy can be very helpful in preventing tragedies.

McClain also mentioned how the department is required to undergo a 72 hour basic training course in which the employees review and practice search procedures.

"They're taught and that training that the police officer have a very stressful job. A very intense job," McClain said.

That same training also happens yearly in Pulaski County. 

"At the end of the day, we want everybody to go home the way that they came into work that day," Aldridge said.

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department ordered body scanners that will be delivered in August.

Aldridge mentioned that the scanners will be able to detect things that they might not have been able to before, such as items inside of the body.


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