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Inmate violence at Nassau jail injures 10 correction officers, union says

The Nassau County jail in East Meadow is

The Nassau County jail in East Meadow is seen in 2011. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau officials are investigating a violent episode that broke out Monday in an inmate dormitory at the county jail in which the correction officers’ union says 10 of its members were injured.

County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Michael Golio, a spokesman for Sheriff Vera Fludd, issued a statement Wednesday confirming there was an “inmate disturbance” in a housing area Monday afternoon at the East Meadow complex.

“Our officers quickly responded and the incident was resolved,” Golio said. “The circumstances surrounding the incident itself are under investigation at this time.”

Golio declined to comment further, citing the ongoing probe.

The correction officers suffered injuries after a reputed Bloods gang member assaulted staff and other inmates tried to join in the fray, according to Brian Sullivan, president of the Nassau County Sheriff's Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

Jail officials wouldn’t say in response to a Newsday inquiry if there had been any arrests since the disturbance or comment on whether any county employees had been hurt.

Records show the sheriff put out an order Wednesday for employees that discusses emergency response procedures and how supervisory staff should react in order to maintain the jail’s security.

But Sullivan on Thursday criticized the administration's immediate reaction to the violence, saying there should have been a search of the dormitory for weapons right after the incident and inmates involved should have been split up.

“There was no administration action taken against these perpetrators. They were put in their cells and left there overnight,” he said.

The union leader said the 10 officers went to area hospitals with problems that included back strains and knee injuries.

Officers on Monday were trying to move a 23-year-old inmate to a new housing area when he assaulted officers who were searching his personal property, according to Sullivan.

He said several other inmates saw the struggle and rushed to a gate, trying to pry it open and join the altercation. The union leader said those inmates broke glass and threatened officers, who had to use pepper spray and physically restrain some inmates to quell the brouhaha.

The  disturbance follows an effort started last spring to periodically move alleged gang members to different jail cells to combat violence. That strategy was stepped up after two gang-related slashings in May 2017, which followed as many as five inmate slashings in one week in 2016.

Jail officials have said about 20 percent of the facility’s population are believed to be gang members.

Nassau Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury), who has been outspoken on jail reform issues, on Thursday called news of the inmate violence “extremely concerning.”

She added that the civilian board that exists under the county’s charter — and is tasked with advising the sheriff on ways to improve jail conditions — should look into the matter.

“I believe the Correctional Center Board of Visitors should conduct a thorough oversight inquiry to determine whether adequate steps are being taken to prevent or at least minimize gang conflict,” Bynoe said in a statement.


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