Lewis & Clark County purchases equipment for COVID prevention in jail

Posted at 10:02 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 00:02:48-05

HELENA — The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office is planning to bring in new equipment to help with their efforts to keep COVID-19 out of the county detention center.

On Thursday, the county commission accepted $20,933 of federal COVID relief funding, awarded by the Montana Board of Crime Control. The sheriff’s office will use the money to purchase several new tools.

One of the new additions will be a sprayer for disinfecting surfaces. Sheriff Leo Dutton said, currently, detention officers have to regularly wipe down inmates’ residential pods – usually while the inmates are exercising. Having a sprayer will make that cleaning process much quicker.

“This effort to keep our detention center COVID-free has been extremely labor-intensive,” Dutton said. “This device will help us a lot.”

LCSO will also purchase a contactless temperature scanner for checking inmates and employees as they come into the jail. Additionally, they will get a new fingerprint scanner so they can book and release people after their arrests without bringing them into the secured areas.

Dutton said they hope to have the equipment within a few weeks.

“With the realization that it’s difficult to fight this – and especially where you have cohabitation in a communal type of environment, where you have all these people – this equipment will help us do that,” he said.

In September, the sheriff’s office reported four inmates and seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Dutton said they’ve had two more employees test positive since then, but that both stayed home when they had symptoms and the virus hasn’t spread in the jail again.