I just read Richard Mehner’s painfully long and dry FOP Department puff piece. His words are so damaging to his own union that a response is really unnecessary, however, I can’t resist. He portrays the media that is covering this unfolding story as vultures that are “exaggerating, sensationalizing and disparaging” your industry. Based on all available documentation, video footage, and eyewitness accounts, I believe the evidence regarding the security issues at Lewis complex is irrefutable. His e-mail is an attempt to mitigate the serious security issues that led to many assaults on staff, and the death of Inmate Andrew McCormick on June 6, 2018.
He seemed more troubled about the Department’s public image, and his desire to remain relevant with promises of a pay raise, than acknowledging the Department’s failures so that this never happens again. The buck stops with the Department Director, Charles Ryan, and his executive staff. There is ample evidence his office knew about the security deficiencies for years. I grow tired of top-level managers and their sycophants shifting the onus to line staff while they shirk their responsibility, and accountability.
It is very simple. You don’t purchase prison doors and locks that have engineering issues, and are capable of being tampered with and/or disabled. It’s obvious that prison doors and locks should be of a robust design to prevent that. If there are engineering flaws with security equipment, it should be replaced immediately because lives depend on it. Why should the officers have to work harder to compensate for faulty equipment that the administration purchased, knew was defective, and failed to permanently fix?
He also mentioned the leaked surveillance video of the vicious assaults on corrections staff at Lewis complex. He felt the video footage has compromised a potential criminal case against the inmates that assaulted those officers. The video footage is damning evidence, and it is doubtful it would adversely affect a conviction based on all available evidence.
Mr. Mehner also stated, “The social media attacks on Director Ryan and the Department reflect poorly on all the hard work that you do every day. We must stop feeding into the negative campaign and offer fixes on this and every aspect of our profession.” I find that statement insulting to the intelligence of all Department staff that have been following these events. The media is exposing nonfeasance and malfeasance at the highest levels of the corrections department. Many staff members understand the dynamic and are very supportive of their efforts. That does not reflect on all members of the Department. It reflects on Director Ryan, the Executive Staff, and anyone else involved in this scandal.