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Five Officers Stripped Of Ranks, Demoted Following Incident With Unruly Inmate

POSTED: 5:57 pm EDT April 14, 2004
UPDATED: 6:25 pm EDT April 14, 2004

BOSTON -- The union representing nearly 5,000 correction officers in Massachusetts said it is considering a strike vote to protest the demotion of five officers and the firing of another at the prison where defrocked priest John Geoghan was killed.

Steven Kennaway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, said Wednesday that the firing and demotions came in response to an incident with an inmate Jan. 28 at the Souza-Baranowski Correction Center in Shirley. The officers also were transferred to other prisons.

Kennaway said an inmate who was being escorted to the prison's health services unit kicked an officer in the groin. He was then subdued by six guards, who held him down on a gurney as he thrashed his legs, Kennaway said. The inmate received a black eye and two small lacerations near his eye, Kennaway said.

Kennaway said the union was informed Tuesday that two lieutenants and three sergeants were stripped of their ranks and demoted after an investigation by the Department of Correction's internal affairs division found that they engaged in misconduct and were unable to account for how the inmate received his injury.

The officer who was kicked in the groin was fired, Kennaway said, because the investigation determined that he gave the inmate his injury.

Justin Latini, a spokesman for the Department of Correction, said he was unaware of the details of the incident and could not immediately comment.

Geoghan was beaten and strangled to death last summer, allegedly by another inmate in the protective custody unit at Souza-Baranowski. An investigation found that a handful of guards at MCI-Concord harassed and wrote trumped-up disciplinary reports that prompted Geoghan's transfer to the dangerous inmate unit where he was killed.

"Ever since Geoghan got killed ... there is a dramatic shift in policy," Kennaway said.

"Now, our officers are no longer allowed to utilize instinct when dealing with issues of force. They have to now consider what an outside person would think is necessary or prudent, not what the officer on the scene would think necessary or prudent."

He said union officials are considering calling for a strike vote within the next two weeks to protest the guards' treatment.

"We are going to send a message to this department - my people are not going to be subjected to this kind of inmate coddling just so they (corrections officials) won't be the subject of investigations in the future."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

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Hmmm........

Internal Affairs? Very interesting...........Whats the qualifications for this unit I wonder?
:?
 

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There is some weird stuff going on in this story. I noticed that when the article mentioned a strike vote, they did not directly quote Mr. Kenneway (did I miss it?). Now, I can't imagine a public safety union official publicly mentioning a strike vote, maybe an informational picket, but not a strike. I'm assuming, that like us, and most other public safety agencies, they have the no strike clause i.e. Strike and your fired.
It seems things are going to get a bit ugly with this new commissioner coming in.
Does anyone know if DOC "internal affairs" issues are covered by DOC IPS or do they have a separate Internal Affairs Division.
Also, does anyone have the text of the Herald Report from last week detailing a DOC Officer being brutally beaten with his own radio, after reportedly being left on the unit by himself. Union is claiming he was working alone on a unit with two people assigned, management claims that there were two people there. Sound like more political posturing to me. One or two could easily by verified if there were cameras available on the unit. If a criminal case arises out of the assault, I'm sure the truth will come out. There's nothing like being alone in a room of 120 convicted criminals. They'll tell you it's safe, and they'll tell the public too. Don't believe them.
 

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As for the agency where myself and pearlonyx work, the internal affairs division is made up of retired state police and I believe a retired police chief.We have cameras in almost every area.As long as your doing the right thing there shouldn't be too much to worry about.Our internal affairs almost always will back up the officers as long as the end justifies the means.We've had some inmates take quite a few beatings that were well justified and no action was taken against the officers involved.Unlike the D.O.C. our k-9's are inside the jail at all times and we will escort an inmate with the officers every time, and use them if needed.They make the inmates think twice about the actions they are going to take.Now obviousley if they are handcuffed we will not take any action.(just to clarify that)
 

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IPS is Inner Perimeter Security Team which is an internal investigations team that focuses on illicit/illegal inmate activity (drugs,gangs,etc.).They come from the ranks of Correction Officers and have a wide variety of intelligence/investigative responsibilities at the institutional level.Every prison in the state has an IPS Team,size depending on the size of the inmate population and security level.These are uniformed CO's.
The DOC at the department level has the Office of Investigations which includes the Internal Affairs Unit,The Fugitive Apprehension Unit,Gang Intelligence Unit and the Criminal Investigations Unit.
These are all plainclothes armed correctional investigators.They all come from the ranks of Correction Officers.The Fugitive Unit is responsible for apprehending escaped inmates as well as participating in local,state,and federal fugitive task forces (State Police,FBI,US Marshals,etc.).The Internal Affairs Unit is what is used to headhunt staff.
 
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