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Guards Protest Mohawk Suspension

April 16, 2002

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Guards Protest Mohawk Suspension

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Guards at Mohawk prison in south Rome are protesting the suspension of a fellow officer, union officials said.

State Department of Corrections spokesman James Flateau identified the suspended officer as Sgt. Rickie Weber. He said Weber was suspended for revealing private medical information about an inmate, for disobeying a direct order to reveal his source for that medical information, and that as a sergeant, Weber should be setting an example for other corrections officers.

Robert Centore is the union representative at Mohawk for the guards' union, the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (NYSCOPBA). He said Weber was suspended after filing a grievance concerning the discipline problem of an inmate.

Union official Centore said Weber complained that psychiatric inmates should be in a secure psychiatric facility like Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy - not in a state prison.

"The officers are going to get hurt. We're not even trained to deal" with psychiatric patients, Centore said.

But Flateau said he "it is the OMH" - state Office of Mental Health - "professionals, not corrections officers, who decide if an inmate requires placement in an OMH unit, and how long that inmate has to be there."

Flateau said he would not discuss the medical condition or past medical treatment of the inmate in question.

However, Flateau said, in "general terms," Weber "complained that with inmates suffering dementia, Weber was being told to ignore standard security rules." But "he wasn't" told that, Flateau said. "He was told that when someone is sick, with something like dementia, you take that into consideration if they misbehave. It may be something over which they have no control."

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