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Dept. of Investigation probe finds poor security at Rikers Island

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BRONX (PIX11) – An investigation has found porous security screening checkpoints at New York City’s massive Rikers Island jail complex.

The Department of Investigation released a report Thursday that says an undercover investigator posing as a Corrections Officer was able to smuggle contraband on six different occasions.

"It is a breach of trust," explained Mark Peters, Commissioner of the Department of Investigation. "Most Correction Officers are hardworking people doing a hard job, but a small number have breached the public trust, breached their oath and more importantly put their fellow officers at risk."

The investigator was able to smuggle 250 glassine envelopes of heroin, 24 packaged strips of suboxone, a half-pound of marijuana, one 16-ounce water bottle filled with vodka, and one razor blade. The contraband was hidden inside cargo pants pockets and the alcohol-filled bottle was in held in hand.

The report reveals the officer went through staff entrance security checkpoints including Anna M. Kross Center, Otis Bantum Correctional Center, George Motchan Detention Center, George R. Vierno Center, Eric M. Taylor Center, and the Robert N. Davoren Center.

It is estimated that a Department of Corrections employee can make approximately $3,600 in courier fees for the amount of contraband smuggled during each operation. The resale value of contraband inside Rikers can also total more than $22,000.

It also finds guards regularly place lunches on top of X-ray machines, rather than through them. It also says correction officers often permit each other to enter jails even after setting off metal detectors. Magnetometers that detect metal on individuals were also all set at different levels, so the investigator would inconsistently set off alarms throughout the facility.

Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters says jail officers have agreed to institute his suggested reforms. Those include placing drug-sniffing dogs at checkpoints and putting trained security staffers in charge of screening.

Three Correctional staff and a nurse were recently arrested for smuggling contraband that was distributed to inmates. Jail officials have vowed to reform the troubled city lockups in the face of growing scrutiny.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.