County jail receives three stun guns

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County Warden Michael M. Johnston said that the county jail has received three new stun guns.

Johnston told the county prison board, led by Blair County Commissioner Terry Tomassetti, that three corrections officers were trained during the past month in the use of the stun guns, known officially as Multi-Purpose Immobilization Devices.

He said the money for the devices came through an Operation Our Town grant. He said the devices went to local police and the county jail.

The jail received three stun guns – one for use by officers who must transport inmates, the second for use in the new Central Booking Center and the third for the armory at the jail.

In response to questions form prison board members, Johnston said 25 to 30 officers at the jail are trained in the use of the stun guns.

To qualify, officers must attend an eight-hour certification course and then follow the training with an annual refresher course.

The jail has more than 40 officers, and Johnston wants all of them to eventually be qualified in the use of stun guns.

Operation Our Town is the local organization that is supported by businesses to address the county’s drug and alcohol problems. According to its website, the organization awarded $371,000 in grants to law enforcement and to drug and alcohol treatment and prevention programs last year.

The prison’s Deputy Warden, Mark T. Masucci, said that as of last Thursday, the prison population stood at 323 inmates, which included 263 males and 60 females.

Five Blair County inmates were being housed in Bedford, Cambria and Somerset counties while Blair was housing inmates from Bedford, Cambria, Huntingdon and Jefferson counties.

Eighteen Blair County inmates had been sentenced to state institutions.

Masucci said it was the second consecutive month in which the prison population topped 320 inmates, which is a high number for Blair County. He attributed it to drug busts in December and January.

Treatment Supervisor Abbie L. Tate said of the 143 inmates committed between Dec. 15 and Jan. 14, 34 were for technical parole violations, seven for technical violations and new criminal offenses and 10 for violations of Drug Court and DUI Court rules.