New technology aims to improve safety in pilot projects

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is launching a pilot program involving technological devices that monitor the health of detainees, authorities said.

San Diego Central will use 10 devices to monitor the vital signs and movement of inmates deemed medically vulnerable, the sheriff’s department said in a news release Thursday.

Similar to commercial fitness equipment that monitors heart rate, police officers and prison medical staff will be alerted if someone experiences a medical emergency while in custody.

“Unlike commercial technology, equipment used in a regulated environment must be tamper-proof and designed in a way that does not pose any security risk to individuals, staff and facilities,” the sheriff’s department said.

According to authorities, battery life, the size of the device and the additional staff work required to support the program are challenges for the department.

As inmate deaths remain an ongoing problem in the prison system, a pilot program of about $1,000 per unit was launched.

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