The metal detector at Houston’s Harris County Juvenile Detention Center used to screen juveniles who have been arrested has not been used since the division moved to its current facility three years ago, the Houston Chronicle reports. The revelations came amid an investigation into the circumstances that enabled a 16-year-old boy allegedly to smuggle a handgun into his cell at the downtown juvenile detention center.
Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, stressed the importance of searching suspects when they are taken into custody. “You’ve got to check,” Blankinship said. “If you think something might be there, you have to check, because your life depends on it.” Detention center employees told the Chronicle was common practice to walk juveniles around the metal detector on their way from a “strip search” to a shower. The “strip search” consists of a juvenile taking off his clothes in a bathroom while an officer watches from the doorway. The procedure is intended to ensure that an adult guard is not alone with an unclothed juvenile.