(Also, be advised, there is a few swears in this one. Sorry. Inmates do not watch their language.)
I don’t know everything there is to know about my job. I am always learning new things. I have not tried every post or experienced every scenario. I probably never will. A very wise associate warden once told me that it takes five years of experience to be properly trained and even then you still won’t know everything.
Let us pretend we are in a housing unit. On the compound there are four housing units in a courtyard, two upstairs and two downstairs. I am upstairs. It is lunchtime, and if you will recall from a previous post, during lunch an officer is to monitor the doors and pat search the inmates randomly as they return.
I am watching the two officers downstairs as they do just that. Both of these officers are newer. One is just back from training in Georgia and one has literally just started this week. Both are very nice guys. They have chosen to stand by the gate and search inmates as they enter the courtyard rather than stand at their respective housing units. This is a perfectly acceptable practice. It’s always good to work in pairs. They have collected a small pile of fruit and other assorted stolen food items. Lunch is winding down and no one is allowed to leave the courtyard. Incoming traffic only.
As I am watching them I see an inmate try to walk out of the courtyard passed the two officers. One of them pulls him over to the side and I assume he asks the inmate where he is going. After a brief conversation, it is apparent that the officer intends to pat search this particular inmate before sending him on his way. I learned later that the inmate was in fact out of bounds. He didn’t live in any of the four housing units in this courtyard and therefore shouldn’t be there. However, we must choose our battles. So the officer chose to search the inmate and then send him back to where he belongs.
However, it becomes apparent that this inmate is not happy about the search. From my view upstairs I can hear him grumbling and can tell from his body language that he isn’t being very cooperative. Unsure of what might happen, I walk a few steps down, still watching the officers. As the officer pats searches the inmate he puts his hand in the left thigh of the inmate, right on his pants pocket. I can see him clearly. But at that point, the inmate bucks. He grabs the officer’s hand and shoves it away and yells loudly, “Don’t be feeling up on my dick!” The officers just stop. Neither moves. The one who was doing the search, who was the one with a bit more time in, tells the inmate to put his hands on the gate. Then they stand there. The same officer calls for the lieutenant. The inmate is now visibly angry and telling everyone about how this is all bullshit and he is being targeted for no reason.
The other officer from upstairs (who has several years experience) and I have already gone downstairs. He and I are clearing the courtyard of inmates and I can see another officer coming toward us from the compound area. The compound officer takes the inmate away. I find out later that the inmate is made to pick up trash outside all afternoon.
Hindsight is 20/20…
There were two officers downstairs. Once that inmate bucked, the second officer should have closed and locked the gate, preventing more inmates from coming in. That inmate might have bucked because he had a weapon he didn’t want found. (He didn’t but we couldn’t have known that.) That second officer should have also assisted the first in keeping that inmate contained once the upstairs officers came down and cleared the courtyard. He was walking about yelling about the bullshit and could have easily run and ditched hidden contraband or enticed other inmates to join him in his ranting. Both officers also should have been clearer via radio in communicating what the problem was so that the situation received appropriate attention. You don’t want everyone running over there like it is an emergency when it isn’t and you don’t want to find yourself in a dangerous situation and have no one else realize. Of course, it has taken me time and some unfortunate experiences to figure that out.