KOSE Update- Battery Against Staff, A Special Update

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Good Evening  Kansas Corrections,

Well, folks, the past couple of weeks at LCF have been somewhat stressful and difficult. We've had some people hurt in staff batteries and rumors have spread like wildfire. I hope that this update will bring other facilities up to date and end some of the rumors. Here is what KOSE said about the batteries in Lansing:

The Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) today expressed extreme concern for the safety of state correctional officers in the wake of erupting violence at a state run prison where, over the past several days, ten officers have been injured in inmate attacks. 

Between June 5th and 9th, no less than five separate incidents of inmate to officer violence occurred at Lansing Correctional Facility, resulting in officers being severely injured.  Officers reported to KOSE they expected some sort of facility-wide response, such as a lockdown or a yard closure, but none has occurred.  To date, KOSE officials are unaware of any facility-wide action taken by administrators to demonstrate zero tolerance for inmate to officer violence.
The lack of response is troubling, as Lansing Correctional Officers have observed inmates celebrating the attacks and encouraging the offenders to “keep up the good work.”
Lansing Correctional Facility, like many State facilities, is operating short-staffed, due in part to the shrinking state budget.  KOSE Executive Director Rebecca Proctor said, “According to the officers at Lansing, Lansing Correctional Facility is understaffed by approximately fifty-five (55) officers.  One of the June 5thattacks happened on a shift that was operating nine (9) officers short of full staffing.  Inmates recognize the staffing situation and are increasingly testing the boundaries and response capabilities.  Sadly, they are becoming more successful and emboldened.”  Proctor continued “When our governor and the legislature refuse to appropriately fund public services, including corrections, they send a clear message to the bad guys: it’s open season on the good guys.”
KOSE obtained all information about the attacks directly from officers.  KOSE requested official information about the attacks and any planned response from the Department of Corrections (KDOC).  KDOC replied that it is not obligated to share any information."
Here is what KDOC replied to MS-NBC Kansas:

"According to Jeremy Barclay of the Kansas Department of Correction, over the course of last weekend there were three incidents involving officers and inmates. During the course of those three incidents six correctional officers suffered non-serious injuries resulting in no hospitalization and per agency policy all were checked out by doctors both for the officers health and workers comp regulations.“The safety and security of our officers is always of paramount concern to the Kansas Department of Corrections. We maintain an operational staffing plan that maintains full staffing regardless of whatever the overtime might cost because the safety of our staff is important to us. Each shift last weekend at Lansing Correctional Facility maintained full staffing.

“As is always the case with an act of violence from an inmate toward a staff member we do take necessary administrative action on any inmate who commits an act of violence toward a correctional officer,” says Jeremy Barclay, spokesperson for KDOC.
Barclay stressed all three incidents were unrelated and occurred in different parts of the facility with no coordination between inmates.
“We have 27 vacancies of uniformed staff at Lansing correctional facility and are actively working on filling vacancies.”

Here is the information put together by me after reading these statements:

1. During the period between 0650 hours, June 5, 2014 and 0000 hours, June 10, 2014, five separate alarms were sounded where battery on staff occurred. This has been verified in the facility's Supervisor log.

2. Of these, six officers made trips to the hospital for treatment of injuries which ranged from a possible dislocated finger to a possible separated shoulder. Two of these officers got stitches for facial injuries. Four other officers did not go to the hospital, but, allegedly, had the normal bumps and bruises which occur in batteries. The six hospital visits were verified by management. Two of the four other officers bumps and bruises were confirmed in interviews by me. The other two by others.

3. Based on IMPP 2-111, the shifts on those days were, by definition, fully staffed. IMPP 2-111 allows the daily closing of posts due to staffing needs. So, once those posts are closed, every shift will always be "fully staffed". KDOC reported that the LCF shifts from 6/5/14 to 6/10/14 were fully staffed. Please read IMPP 2-111 to verify this information.

4. As to the staffing at LCF, KDOC reported that during the period of 6/5/14 to present, LCF is 27 officers short. The June 22nd Master Roster shows 55 open slots. Since Shakedown is not on the Master Roster but is advertising 4 internal slots, that raises the open slots to 59. We have 7 officers in the basic training class who are not on the Master Roster, so that reduces the open slots to 52. We also have 2 "part-time" officers which reduces the open slots to 50. I have asked other LCF employees to check the June 22nd Master Roster to verify these numbers. They have been confirmed.

5. Five of the inmates involved in these batteries are no longer at LCF.

6. The report that inmates in the LCF Maximum security unit, after the initial attack, congratulated, and "high-fived", each other was verified. I read, and am in possession of, a copy of the actual e-mail.

These are the facts that I have, but remember that every employee from every KDOC facility has to make up their own mind as to what really occurred in Lansing.

Now, since the week of the batteries, a couple of things have occurred:

1) Rumors at LCF have abounded that hits are out on CO's. That Shakedown officers are to be targeted in 3 on 1 beat downs. That the batteries were just the beginning. 

The truth of the matter is that there have been tips given to Lansing's EAI by inmates. There always are. It is also clear that there has been, to date, no verified substantiation to these tips. They are tips given by inmates who have probably not been entirely truthful before, but, could be truthful now. Could they be accurate? Sure. Should we at Lansing be vigilant? Any KDOC employee should. If you haven't been so before now, you probably need to work elsewhere. You should always assume that you are in a potentially dangerous environment...because you are. The truth is that there are some inmates who probably want to see us at Lansing hurt. 

All KDOC employees who work around inmates; Keep your eyes open. Know where your co-workers are. Keep your personal alarm (Panic Button) on you. Do not put yourself in an indefensible situation. Use your "verbal judo" when communicating with inmates. And for goodness sake, if you can peacefully lockup an inmate in crisis before you talk to him, do so. If you get information, or hear about information, from an inmate, send it immediately to EAI. Do not share that information with your friends and co-workers. NEVER mention an inmate's name in connection with information (Exception-when you contact EAI). That could be a death sentence to him...and the blame would be yours.

2) The Warden at Lansing has taken action to put more of our Shakedown on the streets and in the units where they can be seen and deliver a message. The message is that for every action, there is a reaction. In this case, since the event in question has already past, the message is also that the presence of Shakedown has been increased to prevent further violence. Additionally, it appears that the rapid filling of open Shakedown slots at Lansing is of the highest priority. 

Are the problems which arose because of that violence cured? No. Have batteries against staff ended forever? Of course not. Is the situation any better at Lansing than it was 10-14 days ago? Marginally, but action is being taken on some levels to improve staff protection. Slow progress is always better than no progress. Would any of these actions have happened had we not spoken out about the violence?  Possibly, but the facility pursued no timely action or response to the violence until after it was publicized.  All of us must speak out, and stand together, about safety concerns in our workplace.

As always, I will continue to update of the efforts of KOSE to make our jobs at KDOC a little bit better.

John Bates
Unit 6 KOSE Steward
Lansing Correctional Facility
2200-0600 shift
S/M off