Correction Officers Who Were Suspended for Failing to Detect Contraband at the Queens Detention Complex Will Be Fully Reimbursed for Time Lost

New York, New York July 30, 2003 - New York City’s Civil Service Commission unanimously reversed an Administrative Law Judge’s decision and awarded New York City Correction Officers Keith Morgan and Patricia Jordan back pay for time lost during their suspensions of 45 days and 35 days, respectively.

The two veteran correction officers, who serve in the Queens Detention Complex (QDC), were accused of allegedly failing to detect the introduction of an automatic pistol that ultimately found its way into the hands of an inmate. Correction Officer Morgan had been the housing area officer responsible for searching the inmates and Correction Officer Jordan had been the package room officer responsible for searching their packages.

According to the Department of Correction, the two officers failed to detect the gun. The DOC also contended that Officer Jordan was “tired and therefore was unable to perform her job efficiently.” Despite the fact that the DOC acknowledged that it was possible for the gun to get in through intake or by another visitor, the DOC maintained that it was impossible for the gun to have entered the facility the day before. The DOC argued that the gun entered the facility as an accident because Officer Jordan did not properly inspect the inmate’s girlfriend’s package, where the gun had been stashed and because Officer Morgan was “bored with his job and lacked concern for his duties and therefore was performing them inefficiently.”

At the Civil Service Commission hearing, the correction officers’ attorney, Joey Jackson, of Koehler & Isaacs LLP, argued that the DOC’s charges were flawed for a number of reasons. First, Mr. Jackson asserted that the only evidence against the two officers was the inmate’s own self serving statement claiming that the gun was in one of his shoes. Second, Mr. Jackson noted that the inmate’s girlfriend had denied to the officers that she was carrying a gun. Furthermore, Mr. Jackson noted that the Supervising Investigator for the Department of Investigation interviewed the inmate and at no point during the interview did the inmate claim that his girlfriend had brought the gun or that he had asked her to; the inmate was arrested and charged with promoting contraband, yet no charges were brought against his girlfriend.

After a detailed review of the evidence presented, the Civil Service Commission reversed the determination by the ALJ and the Department of Correction, noting that the inmate’s testimony was the only evidence against Officers Jordan and Morgan. Furthermore, they noted that “there was no causal link between the officers and the gun....and that the mere presence alone is not enough to conclude that the two correction officers are at fault for the gun’s presence.”

Commenting on the commission’s decision, Norman Seabrook, reelected president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for a third consecutive term said, “This case was without merit from the beginning. These two veteran officers have a combined 30 years of experience with the DOC and they never have been disciplined or reprimanded for allowing contraband into the institution. Instead of trying to find fault with these officers, the DOC should recognize these two veterans for their continuous dedication and professionalism that they bring to the Department.”