(WGNO) – It’s out with the old and in with the new as prisoners are transferred to the new Inmate Housing Facility Monday.
It’s a new chapter complete with new staff too.
“Dex” is the sheriff department’s new crime sniffing dog.
It’s his job to sniff out contraband cell phones and he’s got a ‘paw’ up on the competition.
“We’ve developed technologies to identify cell phones on people if the cell phone is turned on, but if the cell phone is turned off, our most sophisticated technologies are helpless,” says Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche.
Research shows a dog’s sense of smell is about one-thousand times sharper than that of a human.
“Dex” can detect cell phones if they’re turned off.
“A cell phone gives off a property, a scent and it’s enough to pick up and it’s worked and worked well,” says JOHN CASBON with Iberia Bank.
“Dex” would not be employed without full donations from the bank.
Cell phone contraband is a big problem in prisons across America and it’s been especially well documented in New Orleans.
Some facilities that closed Monday are more than eighty years old and built during a time in history when cell phones weren’t even contemplated.
The new facility is designed to make it much more difficult for prisoners to smuggle in contraband of any kind.
“It’s a constant game of cat and mouse because the inmates have nothing to do but plan how they can get what they want while they can’t get it while they’re behind bars,” says Goyeneche.
Inmates can plan crimes from the inside if a cell phone gets smuggled into prison.
Contraband phones have been used to persuade witnesses and victims not to testify, they’ve also been used to order hits on people scheduled to testify against them.
And deputies hope having “Dex” around will make a difference.
Dex cost a more than $12,000.
He’s one of only three cell phone sniffing canines in the state.
“I think what we’re looking for is to put money in things that actually make sense that we know will work,” says Casbon.