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‘Red flag’ report: Correction officers found with arrest records, gang ties

NEW YORK — Their job is watching inmates, but a new report shows a significant portion of Correction Department employees have arrest records of their own.

About 30 percent of candidate files from the 2016 classes reviewed by the Department of Investigation had red flags signaling “corruption and safety hazards,” according to the report. These people either shouldn’t have been hired or should have been monitored after they were hired. DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said the organization will arrest correction officers who have red flags in their backgrounds.

“Until the City Department of Correction creates and implements a proper screening system, we will not solve the problems that plague Rikers and DOI arrests of DOC staff will likely only increase,” Peters said. “This was a systemic problem in 2015 when we released our first report and DOC’s failure to act on DOI’s findings continues to be a problem.”

The earlier investigation showed people with gang ties and arrest records were hired to work as correction officers. At the time, the DOI issued recommendations to improve the hiring process. Department officials believe the DOC did not implement some of the suggestions at all and only partially implemented others.

Their review found someone who’d previously worked for the state Department of Correction and Community Supervision and had left after he had a relationship with an inmate.  Another candidate had been arrested for criminal possession of a weapon and harassing a coworker. The review also found someone with ties to several people with gang affiliations.

Some of the people mentioned in the DOI report have already been fired and the DOC is looking into the others, spokesman Peter Thorne said.

DOI officials recommend the DOC have a more thorough applicant review process and use law enforcement to vet applicants. They also suggested a review of the psychological testing used during the hiring process.

PIX11 has reached out to the DOC and the union representing correction officers.