BROOKINGS – Brookings County commissioners on Tuesday gave their approval for the Brookings County Detention Center to lease a new stand-alone kiosk for the jail’s alcohol-testing 24/7 program.
The device, called the AB Kiosk, will be installed at the Brookings County Detention Center before the end of the year, Brookings County Sheriff Marty Stanwick said.
According to the device manufacturer’s website: “Minneapolis-based Precision Kiosk Technologies leads the electronic monitoring industry by providing high-volume autonomous alcohol screening and client monitoring functions to law enforcement agencies and courts.
“Its AB Kiosk solution is a secure, integrated system that fully automates alcohol screening, pre-trial services and probation check-ins, and efficiently monitors participants in diversion, treatment and work-release programs. This system significantly reduces administrative costs and frees up law enforcement and probation personnel for higher value work.
“The simplicity and two-way communications capability of the AB Kiosk system also makes it easy for clients to conform to the requirements of their pre-trial release or sentencing, which reduces recidivism and enhances community safety. In addition, PKT designs automated testing kiosks for airport and mass transit facilities, stadiums and arenas, and large-scale events.”
“We were approached by a company that has a standalone kiosk machine that will be hands-free for us on getting PBT alcohol tests for the 24/7 program,” Jail Administrator Bart Sweebe said at the Tuesday meeting. “They currently have machines set up in Minnehaha County at their testing site and in Codington County as well. Codington County has been using theirs for about a month, and they’re having good results from it.”
Sweebe said if a person fails the test, there’s a message that comes up on the screen that says they need to report to the PBT window.
“We would still have a window to PBT at – and we’d get another test just to confirm the test that was done by the kiosk to see if it still failed, as I imagine it would be, then we’d have them come inside,wait for 15 minutes and take another test,” Sweebe said.
While some might think having a kiosk that is not monitored directly by an officer could create issues, Sweebe was told otherwise.
“My concerns were that somebody could split and run, and I asked Codington County about that and they said that over the month period they’ve had several failures – which is common with the program – and nobody has run off. They’ve all reported in,” said Sweebe.
The machine is effective in that all it requires past the initial registration of the offender is a bendable straw that is provided by the kiosk, a fingerprint from the offender, and then a swipe of a credit card or cash deposit.
“There’s a dispenser at the bottom that dispenses straws, just regular bendable drinking straws, and you put the short-end of the straw into the machine. It asks for you to blow and you blow into the machine and it registers your reading. If you pass, you’re good. You get a receipt that proves you took your test, and you’re good to go,” Sweebe said.
“The clients pay for their test at the kiosk, inserting cash or swiping with a credit card. I think … that will be a great tool for us. A lot of people are using credit cards these days anyways … so I think we’re going to see a little bit easier payment for that,” Sweebe said. “The company that is putting these machines out had to get permission from the state to even use these, so they’ve already worked through the 24/7 program out at the state Capital to get these approved. This isn’t something they could just bring in and set up. They actually had to be approved by the state to even give us this option of testing.”
Sweebe said this company is working with AMS, which is the company that creates a majority of the online components involved in the 24/7 program, including the ankle monitors worn by offenders.
“The transition would be seamless,” Sweebe said.
Sweebe said the kiosk costs $1,350 per month, but if he has 22 people testing twice a day, that month’s fee is already covered.
“We’ve got enough money comfortably in our 24/7 account right now – in our bank with the Finance Office, that we can go ahead and pay a year for that, and then as we do our PBT testing we can just replenish that money back into that initial fee that we put out,” Sweebe said.
He added that the new machines could save the Brookings County jail a lot of money due to cutting down on PBT products, efficiency of use, and allowing officers are able to attend to other tasks throughout the day.
Stanwick said all the kiosks are interconnected, and information on each individual can be reached via the kiosk. That means if someone needs to take a PBT test but is in a different town that has a kiosk, they can take that test there.
Stanwick said leasing the device is also helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic in that it cuts down on person-to-person contact.
“It’s even handy without COVID being an issue because it will increase efficiency for testing and for all the officers at the jail,” Stanwick said.
Contact Matthew Rhodes at [email protected]