|Non- Emergency Transportation of Inmates|
|By William Sturgeon|
Editors note: Corrections.com author, William Sturgeon, is an emergency preparedness and counterterrorism planning expert. He has more than 35 years of experience in the criminal justice field, and has managed security operations for sheriffs’ offices and correctional agencies across the United States.
Over the past several months there have been some news stories about prisoner escapes during transports. In this month’s session we are going to examine the Non- Emergency Transportation of inmates techniques and precautions.
The transportation of inmates is a very dangerous task and every effort should be made to reduce the risks of the transporting officers getting hurt, the inmate (s) escaping, and protection of the general public.
Any inmate, regardless of custody level, should be considered an ESCAPE RISK and therefore, all security policies and procedures must be followed.
It only takes one mistake on the part of the transporting officers for the inmate to gain the upper-hand and kill or injure the officers and/or escape. Complacency, carelessness, and /or disregard for established policies and procedures lead to disaster events during transports.
Transportation of inmates can be broken down into 6 phases:
The preparation phase is where the transporting officer (s) insures that they are prepared to move the inmate (s) from the security of the facility to the outside world (or as inmates call it Free-world).
Searching of the inmates that are going to be transported
Transporting officers are responsible for searching every inmate that they will be transporting. While other officers’ may have already searched and applied restraints to inmates who are going to be transported, this does not relieve the transporting officer from conducting their own searches. Additionally, the transportation officer should conduct a thorough check of the restraints on every inmate to be transported.
The pre-transportation searches and inspections of restraints cannot be stressed enough. Once transportation officers leave the security of the facility it might their searches or checks of restraints that prevents them from being injured or killed and/or the inmates escaping. The extra couple of minutes that these tasks take is well worth it when you’re driving down the highway.
Transportation to Destination
Once the sally-port door closes and the transportation officers and inmates are on their way to where they are going. Knowing the destination of the inmates is important for several reasons:
All during the transportation officers should be paying attention to what is going around them and with the inmates that they are transporting. The driver, of course, should be following all of the traffic laws. In addition, the driver should be checking the rearview mirror to insure that they are not being followed.
Arrival at Destination
Upon arriving at the destination transportation officers have a tendency to relax and let down their guard. When in reality this can be a very dangerous time. There are some steps that transportation officers should even before they open the doors of their vehicle.
Prior to opening to the door to let the inmates being transported out of the vehicle, the transported officers should strategically position themselves so that they can provide the best security possible.
Return to Facility
Depending on where the inmates being transported have been will determine if the transporting officer want to re-search them. If the inmates have never been out of the transporting officers’ direct view then the transporting officers’ may forgo the pre-transportation search. Otherwise, it is always advisable to search the inmates prior to being transported.
The same precaution should be followed going back to the facility as were followed when leaving the facility. Inmates who have been sentenced can become desperate (regardless of the length of the sentence) and may act out during the transport.
There is an old saying, “the closer you get to the institution is the most dangerous time of a transport.”
Conduct a thorough search of the transportation vehicle, for contraband, after the inmates have exited the vehicle.
Emergencies / Extra-Ordinary Occurrences
There are several different types of emergencies that can occur when inmates are being transported. The one thing that transportation officers should know if an emergency occurs are:
Communication is crucial element of transporting inmates. Too often transportation fail to keep the facility advised of their status.
The duty of transporting inmates carries with it a great deal of responsibility and risk. Transportation officers must always be aware of their surroundings, the inmates that they are transporting, the intervention of outside sources that could create a dangerous situation for them or for the inmates that they are transporting.
Ill trained or complacent transportation officers jeopardizes their own safety and security, the safety and security of the general public, and the safety and security of the other inmates being transported.
When one thinks about the number of inmate transports that take place on a daily basis without incident it is a credit to the officers responsible for all of those transports. As with most things associated with the field of corrections they are done professionally by dedicated public servants.
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