Daviess County Detention Center

Rhonda J Miller

Police officers in Kentucky have an increasingly broad range of training that includes responding to situations where someone has mental health issues.

Owensboro Police Department Lt. Chris Castlen is one of the trainers who took part in a recent crisis intervention workshop in Daviess County for about 30 officers from around the region. 

Castlen says it’s important for officers to be able to recognize mental health issues and respond in a way that will de-escalate the situation.                             

You know, I’ve been a police officer for 20 years and in that time I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of calls where we respond to consumers, as we call people, who are suffering from some sort of mental illness.”

Castlen says police officers spend as much time relating to people who are dealing with some sort of mental illness as they do responding to criminal activity and victims of crime.

Sandefur Training Center

A training center for adults with disabilities in Owensboro is consolidating services at its Henderson location in February. The Sandefur Training Center has been a workshop where adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities work on a variety of basic production projects for local companies.

The center underwent a major transformation about a year ago when it added an expanded focus on education and life skills. Executive Director  Julie Wischer said the increased costs led to the decision to close the Owensboro center.

We increased and expanded our adult day learning program, where we learn daily life skills and academics, like math and geography and cooking. And when we did that, it caused the cost of our program to increase.”

ADANI

The Daviess County Detention Center has a new state-of-the-art body scanner to help cut down on contraband.

Jailer David Osborne says Daviess County has problems common to most jails and prisons – the continuing and increasing amount of contraband being smuggled in, especially drugs.

“It seems that nowadays people are getting smarter about how they try to smuggle it and most of the time now it’s actually in body cavities. Even in the jail, once they’re in here, they just keep it stored there, if you can imagine, in balloons or in plastic bags or whatever.”

The body scanner is similar to the machines used at airports, but it has two views from different angles to help detect hidden drugs or other items.

The scanner has advanced technology called DruGuard. The software component outlines the part of the body of the person being scanned where drugs may be concealed.

Osborne says the scanner is especially important for inmates who leave the jail for work assignments,  where they sometimes try to arrange drug deals.

“You name it, they’ll smuggle anything in and everything in here , you see, is valuable. And it’s dangerous, because it causes the inmates to want to fight each other to get that drug. Or when they get high it causes problems for our staff."

Osborne says the $150,000 scanner is an important step to increase safety. He says the new technology may eventually allow the jail to do away with strip searches.