'It's not a culture in the jail': Sheriff's department explains 'brand new officer' mentality
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Feb. 28, 2013
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A newly released report reveals the fate of a 21-year-old jailer blamed for an inmate's escape. That same report makes public a troubling trend: some corrections officers in Pima County don't like to be told what to do.
In the sheriff’s department’s internal review of what happened one October night, officials stated Corrections Officer Leland Mason did not follow policy and procedure, which led to the escape of inmate Cesar Lowe.
Deputies captured Lowe hours later miles away from the minimum security facility on South Mission Road.
After the escape, according to the department's "disciplinary panel review,” investigators discovered Mason and some other officers did not know and therefore did not follow correct procedures for moving inmates. Mason had been on the job one year.
Ultimately, according to the report, Mason received "coaching" on those procedures.
In the document, a supervisory sergeant reported about the past: “…there had been one incident where [the sergeant] had to document [Mason’s] lack of safety procedures in dealing with an inmate.”
That sergeant also reported, “I had noticed multiple times Mason talking a bit too friendly with the inmates.” When approached about the need “...to concentrate on his job. Mason became defensive and said he was not friendly and exited my office.”
One officer added, "Mason liked doing things his own way." Other officers stated similar things.
The officer wrote: "I did (notice) that, if a new officer doesn't come to you for help, and you find him doing something wrong, if you try to tell him how to perform his assignment the right way, some of the new officers, didn't like being told how to do their job by another officer."
“Asking questions can avoid catastrophic mistakes,” he concluded.
Reporter Kevin Keen asked Captain Sean Stewart, “Is that kind of culture happening in the jail and has it been addressed?”
“It's not a culture in the jail,” the corrections captain answered. “It's a generational culture. It's a culture in society. You have to learn how to work with individuals from different generations and you have to understand how to relate to them and how to teach some of them. It’s not the jail. It's any business in the community.”
He cited differences between working with baby boomers and with millennials.
Keen later told Stewart, “But in this line of work, that kind of behavior can lead to severe consequences -- to an inmate escaping.”
“In this line of work, if somebody makes a mistake, it can lead to serious consequences,” Stewart responded.
Stewart said the problem won't be repeated.
“We found little problems that touched certain areas and we fixed all those little problems so I can stand here today and tell you I can guarantee you this won't happen again in that instance,” he said.
Stewart described a number of other changes the sheriff’s department has made and will make as a direct result of the escape.