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 Blog Post

Centers Seeing Less Contraband Due to Employee Efforts

November 28, 2018 12:05 AM
By: Michael Gourley, Major

PA Coat of Arms

The Bureau of Community Corrections (BCC) has effectively been reducing the number of contraband recoveries which in turn lowers the number of police visits to and arrests at community corrections centers (CCC) across the commonwealth.

"The decrease in contraband can be attributed to many factors, but at the forefront would have to be an increase in searches," said BCC Director Dan McIntyre. "Other factors, such as out-service trainings specifically designed to inform participants about new drugs and about hidden meanings in the drug sub-culture, are also important."

The increase in searches at the centers has two main purposes, to locate and confiscate contraband as well as deter its introduction. The BCC has had tremendous support from the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (PBPP), which is important because a large majority of center residents are parolees. Whether a search is planned weeks or hours in advance, the manpower and support from PBPP is always abundant and greatly appreciated. It is great to be able to see all of the planning, training, sweat and diligence of BCC and PBPP line staff and managers alike come together time after time to conduct complete and thorough searches. All the while minimalizing the risk of exposure. This is all done while performing their respective duties in a professional manner that deescalates potentially volatile situations that can occur in corrections.

To put things in perspective, let's examine one specific center -- Wernersville CCC.  This center had 150 drug-related contraband recoveries in 2017. As of October 2018, that number has been lowered to 40, and the majority of these were found when reentrants were being processed prior to entering the facility's body scanner. To go from an average of 12.5 finds a month to four reflects greatly on the BCC's dedication to protect both the reentrants being housed and the communities that we serve. BCC staff takes pride in constantly adjusting methods to counter the ever-changing world of abuse and addiction. New substances and smuggling methods are being discovered almost daily, so we constantly work on the methods of detection and training of the BCC staff.

The BCC leadership encourages management staff at the various facilities, whether it is a contract or a state-run CCC, to have an open and positive dialogue with all local law enforcement agencies. Our many searches throughout the commonwealth in all of our facilities have used resources from the PA State Police, parole agents, supervising agents and BCC staff, including management staff. Also DOC K-9 teams have played a major role in the discovery of contraband, limiting staff exposure possibilities and decreasing search times.

A number of BCC employees also have fostered positive relations on a national level with agents from the DEA and FBI. Through these relations we are more aware and knowledgeable of the way drugs and contraband are dealt, used and concealed for later use or transport. Soon we will be partnering in a training initiative with the National Guard to further enhance our capabilities of intervention and detection. 

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