Undercover Probe Finds NYC Jail Security Lapses

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New York City’s Department of Investigtion found serious security lapses at jails in Manhattan and Brooklyn when an undercover agent was able to smuggle drugs and makeshift weapons into the facilities, the Wall Street Journal reports. The findings come as officials seek to close the violence-plagued Rikers Island complex over the next decade and replace it with jails in city boroughs. The problems uncovered in Manhattan and Brooklyn show that contraband, a problem at Rikers, also exists at other jails. The watchdog agency found similar lapses in 2014 when an undercover investigator smuggled narcotics and weapons into all six city jails he entered.

“This report once again exposes vulnerabilities in [the Department of Correction’s] security protocols and demonstrates the continued threat that contraband smuggling poses to safety and security in our city’s jails,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peter. Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said the jails had already begun implementing significant reforms but recognized more work was needed. An undercover investigator posing as a correction officer smuggled two scalpel blades, 26.8 grams of marijuana and five strips of Suboxone, a prescription opiate, into the Manhattan Detention Complex and the Brooklyn Detention Complex. The investigator passed checkpoints in both jails without being manually searched, even when magnetometers went off. The Department of Investigation advised the jails to follow its 2014 recommendations, putting drug-detecting dogs at staff entrances, eliminating extra pockets on officers’ uniforms and cargo pants, both of which could ease smuggling, and putting staff lockers outside front-gate entrances.

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