Policies endanger new officers, Nevada prison union says
April 20, 2013
Prison officials are endangering new employees by putting them on the yard before they receive proper training, the union representing corrections officers says.
A recent incident at Ely State Prison is a good example of the dangers, Nevada Corrections Association President Gene Columbus said. While officers were moving an inmate in February, he slipped out of his handcuffs and battered two officers, delivering major head trauma to one of them.
The most senior corrections officer involved had been on the job just seven months, Columbus said. The other was a new hire assigned to the prison before he had been sent to the academy for training.
Director of Corrections Greg Cox said it is standard practice to put new hires to work as quickly as possible, then get them proper training. Before training, he said, they work with a trained officer. The department typically tries to get new hires into the academy for training in four to six weeks, Cox said.
The officer in charge in the Ely incident had two years of training, Cox said. He added that such incidents are rare and that the system has been used for years.
"The employees we hire today want the job now," Cox said.
Columbus said the Ely prison is particularly dangerous because it houses Nevada's most dangerous inmates.
He added that untrained hires are not yet sworn peace officers and are not supposed to have physical contact with inmates.
The issue was presented at a recent Board of Prison Commissioners meeting, Columbus said, adding that the Attorney General's Office is looking into the union's allegations.
The issue of training, he said, is on that board's next agenda.
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