When jail inmates riot, correction officers wearing helmets and carrying shields are called in. They usually put down a disturbance without much resistance.
Not so over the weekend in a jail on Rikers Island.
When those specially trained riot control officers responded to a disturbance at the George R. Vierno Center, inmates were actually able to disarm them and beat them with their own batons, sources tell the Voice. Another officer was struck with his own radio, and still others with a chair.
In all, two captains and 11 correction officers were injured. Several inmates sustained broken hands or wrists.
The incident had brewing ever since a recent cell search a couple of days ago. The inmates were protesting the search and refused to lock in to their cells. When the response team arrived, the melee erupted.
The incident took place during a time when the new corrections commissioner wants to cut 477 positions from the department. The department is down to about 8,000 officers, from 10,500. Stabbings and slashing are up.
Corrections officer union president Norman Seabrook blamed the riot on the declining number of officers. “We’re working with a bare minimum and the inmates know it,” Seabrook told the Daily News.
A Corrections Department spokesman denied that claim.