Contraband, Drones, and Developing a Holistic Program

Radar for Correctional Facilities

In a LinkedIn Live panel discussion, first aired in January 2024, David Lewin, Regional Sales manager at Echodyne is joined by Joel Anderson, Deputy Director of Operations at South Carolina Department (SCDOC) of Corrections; Josh Panner, Director of Prison Operations for the North Carolina Division of Institutions; Lieutenant Galloway, Drone Coordinator for SCDOC; and Don Stewart, Senior Director for Security Operations and Intelligence for Core Civic. The group discusses the threat of drones to safety and security at corrections facilities. Key takeaways from the conversation include:

  • Correctional facilities need sensors that detects approaching threats in both ground and air domains
  • Prisons need sensors that detects drones that elude conventional RF detectors
  • Corrections teams are using drones as surveillance and deterrents
  • Tips for pitching a drone detection program at your site

The Interview

David Lewin:

All right. Welcome everybody. Thanks for being here for this conversation on contraband drones and developing a holistic program. I am joined here by a few folks that are experiencing issues with contraband, like many of us from other parts of the country, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee represented here. And after talking to folks in the industry lately at conferences like the ACA Winter conference, it struck me that half of the correctional facilities are experiencing issues with drones delivering contraband along with throw overs. And then it seems like the other half haven't yet experienced that or seen it, or perhaps it is happening and they aren't aware of it. But I wanted to create a conversation today with some of the folks that have seen a rise in activity with drones used for delivering contraband and open dialogue around what it looks like to create a holistic program to address it.

It's easy to get caught into certain aspects of it. So, I wanted to hear from different folks and allow you guys out there to listen in ask questions along the way. They'll [questions] will come through as well and I'll try to get as many of those answered as possible. Hopefully this just helps the industry take the next step no matter where you are in your process or in the development of your program. With that, I will move into introductions and let each of the folks introduce themselves. And I'll just start by letting you know my name's David. I'm with Echodyne, and we help with that detection side of drones and people coming up to the fence to throw things over. And so, with that, Joel, if you don't mind introducing your team from South Carolina.

 

Joel Anderson:

Sure. I'm Joel Anderson, Deputy Director of Operations here at South Carolina Department of Corrections. And our Drone Coordinator, the man that heads this thing for us, is Lieutenant Galloway. He's here also to take questions if people have questions specific to some of the technology that we're using today. We were able to put together an entire drone fleet. We started in 2017 with our very first drone. Mr. Galloway was part of that original team. We had three people working in it, developing what we needed to do. The first thing when you do with your policies and stuff, you have to develop, decide what the purpose is and where it's going to add value, and we were able to put that policy together and get it flushed through our director. Director Sterling came to me and he said, Joel, I want drones to help combat contraband.

So, we started on that project. We can get into it a little bit later, but ours is a layered effect. We started with detection cameras outside our institutions for detecting intruders. Then we put up 50-foot nets, stopped a lot of the contraband being thrown over. Then we found out that they could go to drones or potato guns and get it over our nets. And so, we needed to keep enhancing what we do and create choke points.

We get assaulted every night, every night on multiple institutions, and so we have an RF detection system that we utilize now, and it seems to be working very well for us.

 

Josh Panner:

Good morning, everybody. My name is Josh Panner. I'm the Director of Prison Operations for the North Carolina Division of Institutions. Our defense system in North Carolina is small today. Right now, we have 54 facilities across the state. We have taken a fairly aggressive approach to trying to build up our defenses at facilities in various areas. And I think that one of the chief things that we have done is to start looking at the drone program and trying to track and keep metrics on drone drops and how many times we've been infiltrated by folks on the outside with drones. We definitely have seen an uptick in the past. I'd say five years.

The one challenge in a prison system is the fact that how much technology you can throw at a problem is really focused on a lot of different factors- one being money. As a state agency, we are granted money through legislation and a couple different sources, but I don't think anyone who works for state corrections would say that we have deep pockets or that any agency has deep pockets. So, it's difficult. You have to really talk about the issues. You have to be able to provide numbers and show statistics, and then you have to come up and develop a program and a plan that you can continually show benefits for the money that's being spent. We are at basically the beginning stages of developing kind of a broad drone defense system. We have two facilities that have active systems and we're looking to expand. We currently have an RFP and we're obviously growing at the pace that we can manage, and I can discuss a lot of that later as time goes by.

 

David Lewin:

Excellent. Thank you Josh. Appreciate that.

Don, would you mind just saying a few words, a little introduction as well?

 

Don Stewart:

Certainly. I'm Don Stewart and I am currently serving as the Senior Director for Security Operations and Intelligence for Core Civic. And for those who may not be familiar with our organization, we are a private corrections provider with facilities from the east coast to the west coast and manage about 70,000 inmates currently. But our experience with drones began in that first confirmed drone drop that we had was in 2016. In addition to the changes in the frequency as others have already mentioned, we have seen changes in the types of drones. We've seen the coordination between the contraband cell phones and the security threat route, or gangs, inside the facilities who are organizing the drones and actually utilizing the GPS systems to be able to pin drop exactly where the contraband would be delivered inside the facilities. And we are trying to take a very aggressive approach to combat this.

We've tried many of the RF systems, but as the drone technology develops, we're finding them to be less effective than they were three or four years ago. We are actively partnering with, and talking to, a number of radar detection groups at this time, including Echodyne and David. And we appreciate that partnership. [Radar detects all things moving in the sky regardless of weather or lighting conditions, including drones RF systems cannot detect.] We've got real challenges and the one thing we know for certain is if we stop one delivery method, they're going to be looking for a new one.

In this case, I think we all started probably with people approaching our fences and throwing contraband over, and as we found avenues to mitigate that, they went to the potato guns that were mentioned and then ultimately to the drones. So, it's a growing problem and we need to find those solutions. So, I appreciate the opportunity today.

 

David Lewin:

Excellent. Well thank you. With that said, let's kick off a little bit more detail. I think probably what a lot of listeners are interested in right off the bat is if you guys have any stories from the field of contraband deliveries with drones. And what would be interesting to hear is a story relative to maybe some of the changes that you're seeing from, because I mean, a couple of you mentioned that since 2016/ 2017 you saw this start and then now it's developing and it's continuing to change.

They're [criminals] using multiple drones at the same time and all sorts of different things. So, if you could think of any stories, I had love to hear that and just kind of open the floor for that and then we'll move into what to do now that that's happening.

How do we develop a program to get in front of that that'll come next, but thoughts on stories that pop in your mind or even recent stories too, if you think of anything.

 

 

Radar data used to slew camera at night captures drone dropping contraband into prison yard.

Joel Anderson:

We've seen technology grow tremendously in the drone field. Where you used to only have a payload of about four pounds, you're now looking at payloads 14 to 20 pounds; custom made drones in some cases; and Wi-Fi drones [some custom-made drones and drones flying on Wi-Fi or by GPS waypoint cannot be detected by RF detection systems.}.

We have a lot of experience in this only because we've been attacked so many times with drones and contraband. We have an entire fleet of drones now that help deter all this, but we've had drones caught in our nets. We've had drones run into our buildings. We've had drones so heavy with packages that the lieutenant could just reach out there and knock it down and recover the packages. But even as early as this morning, we had packages dropped on two of our yards.

We have a drone right now flying over top of one of our institutions that Mr. Galloway's working on identifying. And the staff are out there because we have global access to our drone detection system where everybody can pick it up on their iPhone. Local law enforcement, everybody.

We’ve made several arrests with our drone detection system. Our law enforcement community has really bought into this thing with us. Sometimes they respond quicker than we do when it comes to the pilot being positioned out in the woods or off a highway. But we had one guy that actually wrecked his drone in the yard. We found his controller in the woods. He ran off and then Mr. Sterling put a message out on Twitter and said, “Hey, if you've lost your drone, we've got it.”  The guy came up to the institution the next day to retrieve his drone and we arrested him.

Most of the drone pilots delivering contraband to prisons are ex-inmates. We make arrests on average now about once a week. But we've got 21 institutions and it's safe for me to say that probably in the middle of a night we'll have three institutions assaulted between the hours of 10:30 at night and four o'clock in the morning. Sometimes they're bold enough to do it during the day. And Galloway's got a ton of stories because he's been involved in a lot of these arrests for us. But Mr. Galloway, you want to share anything?

 

Mr. Galloway:

I got some stories here on that. Most people who are flying these drones in are ex-convicts, ex inmates from our DOC. They'll come out here, they kind of know the lay of land, they know where they need to drop it at. Communication on the inside is using cell phones.

With the help of the local law enforcement in the area who have our drone detection system on their phone devices, they're able to see exactly where the person is piloting the drones and arrest them or make contact with them. Sometimes it's just might be somebody who mistakenly flew into prison airspace, and police will still go out there and just check with them. We also use technology with cell phone cameras that send alerts straight to our phones. If we see there is a common spot they're flying from, we'll deploy cameras to confirm.

 

David Lewin

That last comment was really interesting around you start to get a pattern of where drones are being launched from and then you can start to get ahead of that almost anticipate or use technology to detect That's pretty intelligent. That's a great way to do it.

 

Joel Anderson:

And the better we get at detecting these things, the better we get at mitigating the criminal that's out there flying it, then we create more choke points for our institutions.

We also see criminals change approach and try different ways of getting contraband in. We've had drone attacks where they'll throw up a drone as a decoy on one side of our institution and two other drones will be coming in on the other side. The other day, at Lieber Correctional Institution in the low country, we had a guy flying two drones at one time with packages on 'em and as one was flying to the institution and coming back. He was out on a service road off of Highway 12 I think it was. We didn't catch him, but I think we got all his equipment.

Lieber Correctional Facility Contraband Drop

Lieber Correctional Institute, Ridgeville, South Carolina

Mr. Galloway:

We also use the drones. We do capture DJI specifically and able to go in there and find all the flight plans that the drone has used so we can actually find out where they fly from, and these guys like to fly at their own house to show it off. So, we have their address as well.

Lieber got hit probably four times that week. At Lieber, they [the security team] were just knocking these packages off, costing them [the drone pilots delivering the contraband] so much money. We haven't really had too many detections since they've [the security team at Lieber] caught six packages in a row plus one in a tree, so it was costing them [the drone pilots delivering the contraband] money. They lost about two or three drones in the process, crashed two of them. The Lieber team recovered the drones and they made an arrest as well. The criminal drone pilots were trying to find new routes to try to get it in that place. So that kind of stopped drones for a little bit. Paul, that I say, they'll go right back at it though once they find another route.

 

Don Stewart:

Well, let me weigh in with a couple incidents. Some of 'em are similar to those that were mentioned, but we had one that was kind of humorous at one of our state contracted facilities. We had the inmate who had organized the GPS pin drop delivery and was out on the recreation yard waiting on the delivery, looking up for it, and the package hit him in the head and knocked him out. The contraband package was a lot easier to recover with the prisoner laying on the ground.

What we have seen recently is a much higher incident where you'll catch a drone being turned on, but then through different programming features, those drones go black. And recently we had one of those also at a state contract that somebody mentioned the payload increase that as opposed to that small delivery of a couple of cell phones or a little bit of tobacco or marijuana or something along those lines.

There was actually a full duffel bag of contraband that was dropped into the facility. Fortunately, the facility is being very conscious that even when they see a drone activate and then go black, they become very careful monitoring both the yards with staff and then the camera systems.

We had one instance where we had a drone that crashed, and we were able to do the download from that device and we had no idea who was involved in actually flying it. But as was mentioned, this guy had been doing all of his practicing at his house and was taking videos of his home with his address and GPS location and pretty very clear pictures of even himself. So, it was a fairly easy case for us to work with law enforcement and take that person into custody and not only got that drone. Plus, there was a lot of contraband in his home that we believe was being designated not only to go to our facility but several other facilities within the state.

[Intercepting contraband deliveries by drones] requires a constant effort.

 

Joel Anderson:

Yeah, John, we had the same thing. The guy is in the house and he's using the camera, took pictures of his wife, went outside, flew it in his yard, just happened to come across his mailbox and the address was there, flew it up on top of the road - you can get the street signs off of it - and we sent police services and an investigator from the county directly to the house. Inside that house it was a business for them. It was set up with packages and stuff already put in bundles and in where they were formation on where they were going to go. It was incredible. It is actually laughable how silly it was for this guy to do all that. Galloway does all our downloads. We have analysts that help him do that. We have a complete drone team now and we're getting bigger and better all the time.

 

David Lewin:

Man, that's crazy. Yeah, it'd be interesting to get into that side of things - the analyst side of the house because getting inundated by so many incidents, it'd be tough to stay ahead of that. Josh, feel free to jump in if you have any stories there. I don't know if you want to jump in on that topic before I shift.

 

Josh Panner:

I think the one thing I would share; we've had a lot of similar instances of what's already been shared, but I think one of the most striking things to me is about a year ago we had an investigation going on at a prison in the southeast part, southeastern part of North Carolina where we had looped in law enforcement right from the start. Through our internal intelligence gathering - we're using phone conversations and tablet messages to track a person who we knew on the outside was bringing in a lot of contraband making pen sizable drops - we set up on the person with the local law enforcement to actually try to arrest him on one of the planned drops.

So, the pilot had to come closer to the facility than I think he would have preferred. We're sitting there waiting for this drop. We can see the drone coming in and sure enough, off in the distance from another direction, we see another drone that we don't know about coming in. And this is two separate crooks working at the same time. It just so happened that they had another person dropping a load of contraband for another set of inmates in addition to the one that we were watching. So I think it's safe to say no matter how capable your intel staff is, no matter how much defense and money you spend on netting, on drone defense, on whatever, whatever you're spending it on, there are a lot of offenders who have connections to the outside and it has been said a lot of times these are people that have been incarcerated before that are familiar with the facility or have a connection with someone on the outside.

Generally, that's somebody on probation and parole we found in North Carolina who's done time in the system and have an enterprise. I mean they make quite a bit of money. The transactions that we've seen with some of these drops have netted quite a substantial money gain in and money being sent to the outside from the inside or vice versa, back and forth. So yeah, it's a huge challenge and it's not really, it was kind of comical at the time because we're looking around and there's two drones flying at us. We can't figure out which one's which. But at the same time, it really kind of represents a serious problem because this is just a random night that you pick to do this stakeout and just so happened somebody else picked the same night. So, on any other given time has been said on the call today, I think our facilities across the state are being targeted and dropped on regularly.

 

David Lewin:

Do you feel like for those in other states that would say we don't have an issue with drones, especially if they have any sort of open yards or where they're maybe more susceptible to that scenario versus a skyscraper or high-rise building or something that they have inmates in. But if they could be susceptible to it but they're not seeing it, do you guys think or Josh just what do you think the likelihood is that they already are having drones being used for contraband and they just don't know it? Or if not, how soon that might be coming? Is it inevitable?

 

Josh Panner:

I agree it is inevitable, if it's not happening already. But before I even say that I would say that in North Carolina we are in a position where we do not have drone detection systems at all of our facilities. The ones that we do have them at are detecting routine drops. And so, there's not a day that goes by that I'm not concerned that something is happening that we don't know about. I mean that's an obvious given in the prison system and the business that we're in. In reality, for a state that does not employ some sort of tracking of incidents related to drones and is of the opinion that drones are not a serious threat, I think that's kind of naive. I mean, I think frankly if they haven't already been compromised by a drone, then chances are they're in the process of it right now.

 

Joel Anderson:

Yeah, I agree with Josh. I tell you, I think first off, it's a big business for 'em on the streets. Those packages that Tyler Galloway talked about through the holidays, through Christmas, between just the Christmas holidays themselves, we estimated the actual value of that contraband that we confiscated on that institution through the holidays, over $200,000 in prison money. And that's just trying to get it in through the holidays. Why? Because people are off on the holidays, people are off on the weekends. You have less staff at night, that's why they're going to try to attack you. Some of them are bold enough to do it right in the middle of the day. I mean, we've had inmates on the wreck yards and drone fly over, drop one package and then take off. And by the time you try to deploy officers out there, the package is gone.

But that's somebody that's very bold in doing it in broad daylight. I am concerned for sites on the east coast, especially with some of our gang issues and where cell phones create an avenue for illegal activity. Some of these inmates, they never stopped doing what they did on the streets. They just simply got put in prison and their enterprise is still ongoing.

We're testing a bunch of products now for cell phone interdiction and we're seeing a reduction on one institution where we're testing. So far it shut down over 900 cell phones since we started this testing period.

And we're seeing a reduction in the drones coming in, the contraband coming in through vehicles and trucks. And not that it's not doing it, it is, but our choke point now is created upfront in our front gates coming in our staff. And if people don't think they have staff doing the wrong thing, maybe they got a hell of a lot better staff selection than we do. But we run into those issues and once we do, they're arrested.

It's like, like Josh was saying, it's something that it eats at you all day every day. You don't know exactly what's in that package until you discover. And so we've got everything from fentanyl to a new drug called Xylazine, which is a horse tranquilizer. Methamphetamines is prevalent, marijuana, tobacco, crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, cell phones, a lot of cell phones. We've captured as many as 30 cell phones at one time in one package. Geez. Big money. Big money. No kidding.

 

Contraband drop with Drone at prison systems

Don Stewart:

Joel, I'd like to agree with you also about the staff issue, but as you tighten up those front entry lobbies, then what we have seen is that actually leads the inmates to go to another avenue, which includes the drones to get the contraband in. We've been at our high-risk facilities. We've been fortunate enough to be able to place some body scanners in our lobbies for both staff and visitors, and it has helped us reduce that avenue of contraband. But at those facilities, we have seen an increase in drone activity.

 

Joel Anderson:

And that's what I was talking about, the layered effect, right? The layered effect that we deal with is we have the body scanners, the full body scanners, I have baggage scanners at the front gate. We still have walkthrough metal detectors at the front gates. All the employees, no matter who they are, have to go through all this. They bring a bag in, it goes in the bag of scanner. They walk in, they get on the body scanner, it scans their body and then they walk through a metal detector in case we missed anything. And I mean, it's unfortunate we have to do that, but that's what we have to do.

And you're right when you say you shut down one area, another area just pops up. I think maybe Josh or maybe one of y'all said that because that's exactly what happens, and I relate it to like a citizen’s radar detector. I buy a radar detector; it detects radars and then the police get a better radar system and then I have to buy another radar detector to combat it. We have to keep up with changing technology and criminal habits.

 

David Lewin:

You guys have said it many times. It's like a cat and mouse game in this. Well look, with that said, we got about 15 minutes left and I think it's enlightening enough just to hear the stories and what's happening. I think that's a powerful element to this conversation.

So, I guess the second half, walk us through developing a program because you can't just chase your tail. You don't have unlimited funding; you lock down one element. They're going to use the other element and how do you begin to make sense of this and to slow down enough but stay ahead of it, develop policies, bring in analysts to help actually sort through the information or start to get ahead of the gang activities.

If you guys have comments that might help other agencies to start to do the work here, where would you start and what are the two or three building blocks of this in your opinion?

 

Joel Anderson:

Well, me personally, if you don't mind if I start, you have to develop your policies and your plan and get buy-in from your higher ups. In our case, my case would be Director Sterling. He was in on this thing from the very start. It can't get big enough, hard enough, fast enough for him yet.

I know Josh was talking about the funding and the money and stuff like that. We have an avenue in our DOS, which is our director of security. They are able to purchase these drones to get what we need. That's why we have an entire fleet. I probably have 40 drones right now and I've got drones on every one of the institutions that our Intel people. I was able to create an intel group, got permission to do it and got the funding to do it.

This is something that I'd been asking for about three years. And finally, I didn't ask for it one year and they asked me, oh, you don't want this Intel group anymore? And I said, sure I do. So, they funded it. I don't know if that was, I didn't do that intentionally. I just got tired of asking and getting told no because I don't like being told no. So anyway, so we put this group together and now we have pilots on every institution. Galloway has pilots that work for him. We fly every drone that we can get our hands on. Even in some cases Galloway's got this grand plan to buy these super drones that are out there now, which if you do any research on 'em, you can find 'em out there. But if we can get our hands on one of 'em, we'll do that too.

But you got to have a purpose and you got to see where it's going. We also employed Galloway with the local law enforcement. He's available to them. We wrote it into the policy. It has to be approved by the director, but the director gives a standing approval. If our state law enforcement department, it's called SLED say, “Hey, we need your drone up there and we need a FLIR or we need a thermal drone up in the air in a certain area,” Galloway and his team deploy to that area, and we put multiple drones up to help local law enforcement.

We have a partnership with the first responders. If there are issues with search and rescue, we help there. If there are issues with somebody that hit the woods out of a car and took off and a county requests us to be there, we're there for them.

We have multiple counties and sheriffs that benefit from all this, not just in the counties where we have prisons. We've made it known to everybody that we can be on the move, and we can be there quickly, and we can get to you. Some counties in our state are very rural, they have very little money. We're there as a resource for them. So that's what we do, but we put all that in the policy when we wrote it, and so we developed that part of it. We also have with our system, our RF system, I have a video center here.

Hey Josh, are you coming to South Carolina when they come? I'm sorry, that's another conversation. But we have a video center here and that video center is tied to our drone detection system. When it goes off, they get an alert as well, and they're watching it on their cameras 24 hours a day.

It's how we monitor this thing.

How can we make it better, where can we go? Technology advancements, all that stuff that's on this thing and the collaboration between first responders. We have a very good reputation out there with local law enforcement. They've even in some counties, have actually developed their own task force to respond to our drone alerts. And a lot of times they get there before we do, which is good for us because they'll end up making an arrest before we get there. So yeah, to put the program together, we had to think outside the box because I will tell you that when the director first brought it to me, we had a lot of naysayers, you don't need drones, you don't need this. We don't need nets; we don't need those cameras. And now our agency can't do without 'em.

And I think that's a testament to the work that Mr. Galloway and his team has done has put together and the relationships they've built with everybody from local law enforcement to even our training academy. We use 'em for maintenance, we use 'em for detecting water leaks in the ground. We use 'em for flying the rooftops to make sure we're looking at roofs that may be leaking or holding water or something. We use 'em for everything. We also, anytime a drone hits the air, we put our own drone up and we check our rooftops almost immediately, check the rack fields, check the fence lines, check the dog runs, and they'll have that drone flying in the air just as fast as they can get there and get it up.

So, we built this thing hopefully to get bigger and better. My goal was to try to lead this thing as far out in front as possible, and Director Sterling is a hundred percent behind what we're doing and that's where it comes from. It has to come from the top. That's where it's got to come from so that the staff below you say, okay, I've got the ability to do this, I'm going to do this. And frankly, Mr. Galloway has built a pretty good reputation.

 

Don Stewart:

I'd like to add too that I agree with every single thing you said. I think two of the pieces that really helped us was the recognition that our interdiction program or intelligence program and our gang program all had to be linked together to create some degree of synergy of information and help us try to combat not just from the inside but also looking to the outside as well. We've had great success in the locations where we've been able to partner with local law enforcement and not just contact them when we have an alert, but actually see that they get the alert at the same time we do. And that's helped them to be able to respond and hopefully be able to capture pilots. And we've had some success in that arena as well. But I think it goes back to that first comment about policy.

You've got to have a standing protocol about how you are going to respond when this threat presents and that obviously that immediately gets you into the training aspect that was mentioned as well. Every piece of that protocol has to be in place if we're going to be successful, and we have to recognize that as hard as we work to get there, these guys are working equally hard to figure out ways to beat the systems we have in place. And I think that we'll probably all find fairly soon that while the RF systems are great systems and they do what they're designed to do, the technology is now moving in front of that and we're going to have to find scalable radar systems that detect every drone in the air, not just the RF drones.

 

Joel Anderson:

I just want to say one more thing, David, please. The collaboration with other teams. We have gang intelligence people on every institution who are part of this drone program that we have. And so, the information comes in all different directions. You can get information from an employee overhearing something or a phone call that was listened to or whatever the case may be. But with our OIG or office inspector general's office, them as well, they have their own analysts. They help dump the cell phones. When we find the cell phones, they come up with information off those. We've got an entire group that collaborates on all this stuff because let's face it, we're outnumbered, right?

We have to be able to get our people together and get 'em understanding each other. There's no bannering back and forth. Fortunately, in most cases, I think in a lot of the states that operations, as far as running the prisons, we do that. That's what we do. There's a little saying that we use, I use around here anyway, 51% of the prisons belong to the operations, belongs to us, and 49% divvied out between programs, medical and everybody else. So, we are the biggest stockholder. Everything that happens has to come through here. And these guys do a good job. Our inspector general does a great job. He's got a great team. They work right with Galloway and our Intel people. The information flows freely back and forth. If we run into an issue where somebody doesn't come forward with something that they heard, then we'll call 'em. We'll have a meeting, we'll sit down and talk to 'em and say, look, we'd have known this, this is where we would've gone with this. But right now, I can tell you that it is working very well and everybody here is on board with it because they see the results.

Collaboration in the main thing. We don't have many issues with any of our areas right now. Everybody's working together very well.

 

David Lewin:

That's awesome. We got about five minutes left and I really appreciate the comments. I thought I'd mentioned one or two questions from people posting since we just have a couple minutes left. And one that came through is, “when you do have a drone infringing on your airspace, do you have to lock down the facility? If so, what's the cost or time to the facility when having to do this?” And I mean, if any of you have a quick comment on this since we're four minutes left now, just I got a couple more questions to tease out as well. So, if you have any quick answers on this, that'd be great.

 

Joel Anderson:

I'll start if it's all right. Most of our drone attacks happen at night. We're already locked down. I shut our prisons down at 6:30 in the evening. We have a roll call count, then that's a formal roll call count, and then the prison is down for the day. Similar to what you do in your life. You go home at the end of the day, you eat dinner, you put your feet up and done for the day. Our business, maybe not so much so.

We have 13 prisons on our drone detection system today. We're going to grow to every one of them to eventually even get to what we call our minimum custody institutions. But we're going to incorporate it on every one of our institutions. So, to answer your question, during the day, if we have a drone attack during the day, we will detect that drone. Our people will hit the yard to look for contraband. We may shut a section of the yard down as cross fenced in a certain area, but for the most part, we do not shut down. We continue operations as normal, and we try to mitigate that package as quickly as possible.

 

Josh Panner:

I echo what Joel said. I think our procedures are very similar. Most of our attacks have been at night during the day. Realistically, if you have a number of offenders on the yard to get 'em all back inside to get 'em corralled in would be a challenge. And chances are, I think you were better sending staff out there to focus on the drop itself and sending additional staff on scene to provide security. That's not to say that shutting the yard down is not a good idea. I guess from my perspective, I would rather have somebody out there to interdict the package rather than to try and herd cats and bring 'em all in at one time. It's kind of lesser of two evils.

 

Don Stewart:

I would add one thing with the number of night drops that we have. What we have seen an increase in is the inmates manipulating the physical plan of the facility either by tampering with the windows or finding an avenue, to even going through the air vents and air handlers to get access to the outside to retrieve contraband, you have to take a little different look at it so that your protocol is fully comprehensive. We’re used to inmates fishing and moving contraband from cell to cell. Now sometimes it's actually trying to get the contraband off the yard and into the cell. So, it just continues to be a changing game, and that's part of what makes it interesting.

 

David Lewin:

Well, we're right up against the clock you guys. Thank you so much for your time, Josh, Don, Joel, Mr. Galloway. Hopefully more to come, more insights as we collaborate together as an industry. ACA is going to be in August in some one of your backyards. It'd be great to just stay connected and try to resource the industry as we move forward, as this continues to emerge and change and technology changes. And that was what I was going to say, Don, when you mentioned trying to get ahead of new types of drones that are harder to detect with one detection or the other, and Joel said that last time we talked. It's like it's a cat and mouse game. Not only when you lock down the front door, then they start flying more drones, but also within the drone technology itself.

It just is going to continue to emerge and change. And so, I think conversations like this are necessary as we figure out how to even develop the right solutions and technologies that are going to actually help support over time and not go obsolete after you finally get 'em up in your facility. That's part of my thought process as a manufacturer and other manufacturers out there who are trying to help as well. We need to stay current. And so, with that, thank you so much for your time, gentlemen, and hopefully we'll be in touch soon. And thanks everyone for listening in.

 

Note: Minor edits have been made to the transcribed dialogue for clarity only. 

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