More than half of NYC corrections officers lied to investigators

"We do not tolerate false reporting," said a spokesman for the Department of Correction

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A new report filed by the New York Times found that out of roughly 270 corrections officers disciplined over a 20-month period, more than half either lied in their reports of incidents or filed them incompletely or inaccurately.

According to the newspaper, about 56 percent of the more than 270 correction officers who were disciplined from January 2019 to August 2020, misled investigators who were looking into these incidents. 12 of these officers held supervisory positions. The data also found that at least 17 officers made false statements in interviews during official investigations.

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Councilman Keith Powers, a Manhattan Democrat, said the data analyzed by the Times is indicative of a larger, systemic issue that “highlights how broken this process is.” He continued, “It’s a turning point to providing more visibility to an often invisible criminal justice system.”

A Correction Department badge on an officer at the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center at Rikers Island, in the Bronx. This is the only prison bardge in the US, and is anchored in the South Bronx near Rikers Island. The Bardge handles inmates from medium- to maximum-security in 16 dormitories and 100 cells. (Photo by David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images)

Lawrence Wallace, a 15-year veteran of the department faced disciplinary actions eight times in less than two years for using excessive force on people held in city jail. According to the Times, “in four of those cases, he lied on official reports about what had happened, and at least once he made false statements to investigators.” He was allowed to keep his job but lost 55 vacation days and earned a two-year professional probation.

“I don’t know any workplace where five, six, seven violations of major abuses would not result in very serious punishment, if not loss of employment,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union to NYT.

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“We do not tolerate false reporting, or excessive or unnecessary uses of force under any circumstances,” said Jason Kersten, a spokesman for the Department of Correction to the outlet.

In June 2020, theGrio reported New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that that officers at Rikers Island jail, part of the New York jail system in the NYT analysis, disciplined 17 staffers after the death of Layleen Polanco, a transgender inmate.

Polanco died in June 2019 after suffering an epileptic seizure while in solitary confinement. Rikers staff are required to do wellness checks on prisoners in solitary confinement every 15 minutes. NBC News released video surveillance footage that shows an hour-long gap between checks ins.

Entrance to the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center at Rikers Island, in the Bronx. This is the only prison bardge in the US, and is anchored in the South Bronx near Rikers Island. The Bardge handles inmates from medium- to maximum-security in 16 dormitories and 100 cells. (Photo by David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images)

“The death of Layleen Polanco was an incredibly painful moment for our city,” de Blasio stated. “What happened to Layleen was absolutely unacceptable and it is critical that there is accountability.”

This article contains additional reporting by theGrio’s Matthew Allen.

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