CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) – A tool designed to help keep jails safer is proving to do a lot more than that for law enforcement.
FOX 32 News received an inside look at how the device is being used to gather information on bad guys.
Inside the Lake County Indiana jail, inmates are talking and law enforcement is listening. Authorities are recording every single video visitation or phone call, except when inmates are with lawyers.
FOX 32: So you know not to say anything that you don’t want law enforcement to hear?
“Exactly, exactly,” said inmate Jaray McCord.
FOX 32: Yet is still doesn’t surprise you that people talk about stuff they shouldn’t?
“Everybody’s not smart in this world, so it really doesn’t surprise me,” McCord added.
But for the Lake County Indiana Sheriff’s Department, the Telmate system has provided a ton of intelligence about inmates and their criminal connections on the outside through the phone and video calls they make.
“Anytime anybody goes to find information on anybody, they immediately go to Facebook because everybody’s posting everything. This is kind of an internal criminal network that you could associate it with being as close to Facebook as you can get for criminals,” said Jamie Harris of the Lake County Indiana Sheriff’s Department.
Every inmate is warned about the recordings.
“Still it’s amazing that the information that we do receive, the intelligence that we do gather from these individuals, from the inmates,” said Sheriff John Boncich.
Herman Banks was arrested last year after running from the cops. He tossed a 40 caliber weapon into an empty lot in Gary, but authorities didn’t know that until Banks called a friend to go retrieve the weapon.
“Fortunately in law enforcement we don’t always deal with the smartest criminals so sometimes they make our jobs just a little easier,” Harris added.
Police have also taken suspected criminals off the street when they’ve shown up to visit inmates.
“All the visitors have to be screened before they can be put on the list for the video visitation. Amazing thing we’ve arrested so many people who’ve come in to visits that have active warrants,” Boncich said.