COXSACKIE — An inmate assault on correctional officers that happened earlier this month is indicative of a larger issue, according to the state Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association.
Three officers were injured in that assault, which occurred at about 4:55 p.m. Dec. 20 at Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie.
The attack is a symptom of a disturbing trend, NYSCOPBA Mid-Hudson Region Vice President Michael Mazzella said.
“As we approach the end of the year, 2019 marks the fourth straight year that assaults on staff have increased,” Mazzella said. “In 2016 there were 760 reported assaults on staff. With a week left in 2019, we are approaching 1,000 assaults on staff as inmate advocates continue to push for decreased disciplinary measures.”
“Without having substantial measures to deter inmates from attacking staff, our fear is that this alarming trend will continue,” Mazzella said.
The inmate, who was not identified, was in the mess hall and was given an order to leave the area. The inmate refused and attempted to punch the officer who gave the order.
The officer grabbed the inmate in a body hold and attempted to take him to the ground but was unsuccessful as the inmate violently struggled. Two officers responded to help. One officer attempted to grab the inmate in another body hold but was struck several times in the head. The second officer was also struck several times in the face by the inmate during the attack.
Additional officers arrived on the scene and assisted in getting the inmate to the ground and in restraints. He was removed from the area and placed in a Special Housing Unit.
Three officers were injured in the attack, according to the union. One officer sustained neck and facial trauma and was taken to Albany Medical Center for treatment.
A second officer sustained minor injuries to his back, left shoulder, jaw and head, according to the union. He was treated by medical staff at the facility and remained on duty. A third officer sustained upper and lower back pain and left shoulder pain. He also remained on duty.
The inmate, 27 years old, is serving a 5-year sentence after being convicted in Monroe County for second-degree attempted possession of a weapon in 2019, according to the union. He faces disciplinary charges in the attack.
“The safety and well-being of our staff and incarcerated individuals is our top priority,” according to a statement from Thomas Mailey from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. “The Department has zero tolerance for violence within our facilities and anyone engaged in misconduct will be disciplined. If warranted, an incident will be referred for outside prosecution. The Department is reviewing an incident involving several correction officers and an incarcerated individual that occurred on Dec. 20 at Greene Correctional Facility and cannot comment at this time.”