NEW YORK — New York State has granted the city a seven-day waiver to allow correction officers assigned the Horizon Juvenile Center to use pepper spray to terminate inmate assaults, COBA announced.
The waiver comes following repeated demands over the past several weeks after correction officers were injured in two separate brawls at the Bronx juvenile center within days of each other.
On Sunday, 16 correction officers and two captains were injured when about a dozen inmates got into a fight designated for problematic inmates, jail sources said.
The brawl happened just days after 20 correction officers were injured when a fight erupted on Oct. 3 at the facility.
Some of the officers were treated on the scene and several others were transported to the hospital out of the corrections facility located at 560 Brook Ave.
Prior to the waiver, with the exception of Horizon, correction officers are equipped with and use pepper spray at every Department of Correction facility as their first line of defense to break up inmate fights and assaults, COBA said.
“Correction Officers at Horizon have been basically working with their hands tied behind their backs by not being able to use pepper spray to terminate inmate fights,” said COBA President Elias Husamudeen. “Every day that goes by without the use of this invaluable tool, increases the chances for Correction Officers to be seriously injured, if not killed by assaultive inmates at Horizon. We’re hopeful that this temporary waiver will be extended and made a permanent part of our equipment once it is clear that it has helped reduce assaults on Correction Officers.”
COBA has criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration for looking "the other way which only exacerbated the current crisis," testifying about the city's poor planning and preparedness.