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  • Something one of our trainees did last night

    One of the trainees we have who is preparing to go to the Academy in May caught two inmates in a romantically compromising position last night, and sprayed the pitcher with Sabre Red. I believe he may have accidentally got the catcher with a little over-spray, as well. We're still not sure whether he brought the spray from home, or picked up some inattentive officer's can.
    Our shift supervisor told me to reprimand him on paper about it, and I'm honestly not sure how to proceed. I'm still a new officer, and I have some of the rough edges I developed in the military. I'm almost positive that "You f**ked up royally" is probably not the best way to do this. What I am thinking is that I will quote the regulation and tell him that this is not the right way to handle that situation. I will explain to him about Use of Force and the concept of acceptable force and excessive force, as well as good faith actions.
    While I know that PREA violations are considered assault, this is still excessive force, according to my supervisor. Personally, I can't swear that I agree. According to the regulations on Use of Force and Chemical Agents, we can only use OC in defense of ourselves, other inmates, or to prevent an escape. Hopefully, the kid will get off with only a written reprimand, because he has the makings of a good officer other than this one incident in six months.

    Thoughts on this? Your insight would be appreciated.
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    Some people are like slinkies. They serve no real purpose in life, but they make you smile when you push them down the stairs. -Unknown

  • #2
    I think a reprimand is all he receive for this. Working in a prison environment will open your eyes to many off-the-wall experiences, and it is commonly said when you first see these occurrences you will "freeze up". He's a trainee and not fully grasping the use of force policy, and its only a little spray, there is no long term damage. Its a learning experience for the trainee and his classmates that you will see incidents like this, and although you may be appalled, use of force is not the answer. Anything more than a reprimand in this situation would be excessive, but to me administrations always give excessive punishment... We all know how that goes.
    Correctional Officer at the Philadelphia Prisons since January 2009

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    • #3
      Unless you have a dedicated IA section, your shift supervisor should be doing the investigation and discipline--not you.

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      • #4
        I think the officer went a bit overboard, but I wasn't there, nor have I read any of the incident reports generated on the situation.

        In my system we are required to give a warning (if possible) that we are going to use OC------unless we need to take immediate action to prevent harm to ourselves or another person.

        From the sounds of it you have been instructed to do something out of your job description.............it should be up to a supervisor to "reprimand" the new officer. Your supervisor is dumping on you----but it is what it is.

        Originally posted by BlueEclipse View Post
        O I'm almost positive that "You f**ked up royally" is probably not the best way to do this. What I am thinking is that I will quote the regulation and tell him that this is not the right way to handle that situation. I will explain to him about Use of Force and the concept of acceptable force and excessive force, as well as good faith actions.
        The "You messed up" statement should be made as a peer to peer statement..............and is correct.

        However many departments require a written paper trail with probationary employees...............you never know when that "good officer" will show that he/she slipped through the cracks and needs to find a new career. That is part of the probation system................you learn or you leave.

        The second part of your paragraph is the correct way to "formally" reprimand the rookie



        Originally posted by BlueEclipse View Post
        While I know that PREA violations are considered assault, this is still excessive force, according to my supervisor. Personally, I can't swear that I agree. According to the regulations on Use of Force and Chemical Agents, we can only use OC in defense of ourselves, other inmates, or to prevent an escape. Hopefully, the kid will get off with only a written reprimand, because he has the makings of a good officer other than this one incident in six months..
        At first blush (and using the information you provided) I think the new guy over reacted. Unless the "victim" was actively fighting the "aggressor" and the aggressor refused orders to stop from the officer, you (or the new guy) would have a hard time articulating the use of force was not excessive.

        I highly doubt this is a fatal mistake for your rookie................however I am concerned about him using equipment that he has not been trained on or issued. THIS could bite him in the arse. My arse chewing would focus on this as much or more so than the act of OCing the thugs.
        Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

        My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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        • #5
          If a trainee did indeed bring in his own canister of O.C. or "borrowed" someones without their permission (not sure how he got it off an "inattentive" officer's duty belt without anyone seeing him...) he is most probably a bit of a "loose cannon" and not appropriate for this job. I know he would be canned in any department I have worked for, no questions asked. He took it upon himself to go above and beyond what he is trained to do at that point in his or her career.
          The views expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

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          • #6
            I didn't articulate myself well. I work in a work release center, and a lot of the older officers don't wear duty belts. They tuck hand cuffs behind their belt in the back, and will carry their OC in their pants pocket, or leave it sitting on a desk in the central control office. Our supervisor has this "innovative" program where he assigns a new trainee to an officer who is fresh back from the academy for training purposes. We're supposed to teach them how to count the inmates, do security checks, fence checks, etc. While I was in the restroom, the trainee assigned to me was wandering around one of the dorms, and came upon these two inmates.
            I've spoken to the trainee, and he says that he told them to stop and they did not. I explained to him that he misused the spray, and that he could have gotten fired or even face a lawsuit for his actions. I wrote the report up like I was told to, then my supervisor pulled us into his office and counseled both of us about the incident. He fairly reamed the trainee for having the OC when he isn't trained to use it, and chewed me like everlasting bubble gum for not "watching the trainee" more closely. The written reprimand will go into his file, and he will remain on probation for this incident until he goes to the academy. One more slip up, and he will have to find a job elsewhere.
            http://militarysignatures.com/signatures/member306.png

            Some people are like slinkies. They serve no real purpose in life, but they make you smile when you push them down the stairs. -Unknown

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BlueEclipse View Post
              I didn't articulate myself well. I work in a work release center, and a lot of the older officers don't wear duty belts. They tuck hand cuffs behind their belt in the back, and will carry their OC in their pants pocket, or leave it sitting on a desk in the central control office. Our supervisor has this "innovative" program where he assigns a new trainee to an officer who is fresh back from the academy for training purposes. We're supposed to teach them how to count the inmates, do security checks, fence checks, etc. While I was in the restroom, the trainee assigned to me was wandering around one of the dorms, and came upon these two inmates.
              I've spoken to the trainee, and he says that he told them to stop and they did not. I explained to him that he misused the spray, and that he could have gotten fired or even face a lawsuit for his actions. I wrote the report up like I was told to, then my supervisor pulled us into his office and counseled both of us about the incident. He fairly reamed the trainee for having the OC when he isn't trained to use it, and chewed me like everlasting bubble gum for not "watching the trainee" more closely. The written reprimand will go into his file, and he will remain on probation for this incident until he goes to the academy. One more slip up, and he will have to find a job elsewhere.
              Yeah, there are some serious problems in the incident in the way you described. First of all, a trainee who has not yet been to the academy should be carrying nothing aside from a radio/panic button, and possibly a set of keys. Arming that person with any less than lethal weapons is just begging for a lawsuit. Now if this person took it upon themselves to carry OC against agency rules and regulations, that is on them. In fact here at my agency, that person would already have been sent packing, especially after having used that equipment without proper training and opening the agency up to a lawsuit. The fact that he is still on probation would make it easier.

              If I was you I would CYA. Write clear and thorough supporting memos that state exactly what happened. You stated you were a newer officer still yourself. Good clear documentation can help assure that you will survive your probation as well.
              What is Perseverance?
              -Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
              -Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.
              -PERSEVERANCE IS TRYING AGAIN AND AGAIN.


              BOP - BPA - ICE

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              • #8
                Originally posted by BlueEclipse View Post
                Our supervisor has this "innovative" program where he assigns a new trainee to an officer who is fresh back from the academy for training purposes. We're supposed to teach them how to count the inmates, do security checks, fence checks, etc…………………………………
                Sorry to hijack this thread but you command staff has serious problems
                Who in their right minds would set up a new hire for failure by having him/her trained by someone barely out of training when you have more experienced hands available.
                A person just out of the academy doesn’t know crap about how to do the job……….they know the basics and the theory but not the “this is the real way to do it”
                Originally posted by BlueEclipse View Post
                then my supervisor pulled us into his office and counseled both of us about the incident. He fairly reamed the trainee for having the OC when he isn't trained to use it, and chewed me like everlasting bubble gum for not "watching the trainee" more closely. The written reprimand will go into his file, and he will remain on probation for this incident until he goes to the academy. One more slip up, and he will have to find a job elsewhere.
                SECOND reason your command staff has serious problems.
                You praise subordinates in public and chew them out in private. You should have absolutely know knowledge of what your supervisor did to your fellow staff member unless that staff member told you. It is very bad form to take two staff into the woodshed at the same time.

                Ok off soap box.

                The discipline given out is correct for the violation for the most part. Once again I would be more upset about him using equipment that he was not trained to use.
                Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                Comment


                • #9
                  To TheKansan, I agree with you that this would get someone sent packing if it were my decision. Before I went to the Academy, my fellow trainees and I were only allowed to be outside of Central Command in the presence of a seasoned Officer, or in special circumstances with a radio or a set of keys to somewhere non-vital, such as a storage room. This system was the pet project of a new supervisor who came from a different institution. Thankfully, this was not me who sprayed the inmate, and our shift commander has decided that the "old"system worked better.

                  To Iowa#1603, I agree that the command in this situation had some serious problems. When I was in the military, you were praised in front of your peers, and chewed out behind closed doors. To be honest, it kind of made me uncomfortable to see the kid get reamed out in front of me. I don't know jacks**t about how this job is done properly, except for the things I learned before going to the academy. I know how to teach subordinates in the military fashion, where someone has a general idea of what the job at hand entails, but that doesn't apply in the same way in the DOC.

                  In all, I can only say that I'm glad this incident has brought to light the flaws in the new supervisor's system, and that no permanent damage was done to anyone involved.
                  http://militarysignatures.com/signatures/member306.png

                  Some people are like slinkies. They serve no real purpose in life, but they make you smile when you push them down the stairs. -Unknown

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                  • #10
                    The use of force continuum was obviously disregarded here, if anything the door should have been shut and additional staff called to separate the two into different locations. Two inmates engaging in such an act hardly justifies such an action unless it was an act of rape in which it was still negligent to use the spray well knowing you could tag unintended targets.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Rzeszow View Post
                      The use of force continuum was obviously disregarded here, if anything the door should have been shut and additional staff called to separate the two into different locations. Two inmates engaging in such an act hardly justifies such an action unless it was an act of rape in which it was still negligent to use the spray well knowing you could tag unintended targets.
                      The whole thread is because an UNTRAINED person used equipment that without proper direction. Being untrained, the person had no idea what the UOF policy was.

                      Originally posted by Rzeszow View Post
                      Two inmates engaging in such an act hardly justifies such an action unless it was an act of rape in whichit was still negligent to use the spray well knowing you could tag unintended targets.
                      I disagree. Many people often get sprayed with OC during a legal UOF. Overspray and just being there causes that.

                      While while the use of OC in this particular incident was unwise, the term negligent is going overboard. It also depends on the actual UOF for the department in question.

                      The UOF policy in my system allows OC in this particular situation IF the officer gives the actor a direct order to stop the action and the actor disobeys.
                      Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        +1 with Iowa. Situations will dictate tactics, and IF there was a legitimate reason, an officer DOES NOT have to follow the UOF continum verbatim. I agree it was an error on the part of the Trainee...but I also think the officer he was assigned to was somewhat at fault for allowing him to "wander' when he was allegedly indisposed. As a former supervisor, I would NEVER conduct an ***-chewing unles it was "one on one" behind closed doors. My theory is "let the punishment fit the crime", and although it was a somewhat serious offense, my guess is that if it was handled properly, it could be a learnimg experience for ALL involved...including the inmates!

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