Surveillance video catches Denver jail inmates overdosing on drugs

Posted at 5:07 PM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 20:51:27-04

DENVER -- New surveillance video obtained by Denver7 shows the moments when five inmates overdosed on suspected crack cocaine at the Denver jail.

It happened in Pod 4H of the Downtown Detention Center on Thursday, Sept. 22 around 3:30 p.m.  The pod houses longer-term inmates.

"At this point, the intelligence we have is that it's come in through the intake desk," said Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman.

The video shows deputies outside an inmate's cell on the upper level of the pod radioing for help.  Moments later, several more deputies appear and help the inmate down the stairs to waiting paramedics.  About 20 minutes later, during a pod shakedown, several more inmates walk out of upper-level cells and down the stairs to get help.

"It's pretty tough to get something through here," said Deputy Michael Bennett, who works in booking.

Bennett said all inmates are first searched when they get to the jail, although federal law prohibits strip searches unless there's probable cause.

"They face the wall and then we search them pretty much top to bottom," said Deputy Bennett.

From there, they're put through a metal detector. Their mug shot and fingerprints are taken, then the inmates are given a shower and jail uniform.  Bennett said inmates are again searched before they're taken to their pod.

"We figure out ways to stop it or reduce it, and they figure out new ways to bring it in. So it's a constant struggle for us," said Sheriff Firman.

In the coming months, the Denver Sheriff's Office will get three new drug dogs, which will be used to search the intake area as well as staff and administrative areas.  Currently, staff are not searched when they enter or exit the jail.  Sheriff Firman said they are also looking at options like body scanners to more successfully detect drugs hidden in places they can't search.


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