CREATED Oct 11, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - An inmate’s escape from custody Wednesday put dozens of deputies into the search mode and put those who live near the jail on alert. Deputies captured felon Cesar Lowe hours later.
9 On Your Side wanted to know: How did he escape in the first place? The Pima County Sheriff’s Department told 9 On Your Side officers didn’t follow protocol.
“I'll just put it this way: the procedures were in place and, unfortunately, the procedures weren't followed,” said Capt. Rod Mayhew, a corrections captain at the jail.
Mayhew explained Lowe was about to be driven from a minimum-security facility to the higher security jail complex Wednesday night. Why the move? Lowe missed classes he agreed to attend and had behavioral issues, Mayhew said.
Such a transport, the captain said, is routine and happens multiple times a day. 9 On Your Side was there Thursday afternoon as an officer at the facility on South Mission Road put an inmate in a minivan, closed the door, opened the gate, closed the gate then drove off.
Mayhew said Lowe's transport, however, was not by the book.
“You can have the best policies and procedures in place, but if they're not followed, they're not worth the paper they're written on,” he said. “That's what we're looking at.”
Among the multiple failures on the part of the employees involved Wednesday: Lowe was not -- and should have been -- in handcuffs and ankle shackles, Mayhew said. He added the fence gate was left open. Also, the procedure should be done by two officers, Mayhew said, and there was only one. An internal investigation could uncover other failures by officers and supervisors.
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked Mayhew, “There's an ongoing investigation but is fair to say this could have been prevented?” “Again, we have the policies and procedures in place,” he replied. “If the policies are followed, it would've been highly unlikely that this would've happened or could've happened.”
Keen asked, “As a result of this, will people be re-trained? Will there be consequences?” “It's an ongoing investigation right now so I'm not really at liberty to discuss that, but the potential is certainly there,” Mayhew answered.
The sheriff's department said Cesar Lowe should face charges of escaping from custody. That would mean additional jail time for Lowe, who's currently behind bars for a nonviolent crime: car theft. Lowe was originally set be released in February, the department reported.