Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2006

Prison moves to fire officer after escape

February 23, 2006

The first casualty in the aftermath of the Feb. 12 inmate escape from Lansing Correctional Facility may be a corrections officer.

The Kansas Department of Corrections on Monday afternoon said Warden David McKune was proposing the termination of the officer for failing to follow the prison's security protocols.

The lapse in protocol - not adequately inspecting vehicles as they leave the prison grounds - was a factor in the escape of John M. Manard, a 27-year-old inmate who was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. Manard and his alleged accomplice, Toby Young, the lead volunteer with Safe Harbor Prison Dog program at the prison, have not been seen since the escape.

Bill Miskell, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, described the officer who is facing firing as having "at least eight years" of experience on the corrections staff.

The officer is not thought to be involved in the escape scheme. Rather, his pending termination is for paying lax attention to protocol that could have prevented the escape. Authorities believe that Young's familiarity with prison staff may have allowed her to exit the prison without her van being properly searched by the officer.

"I can tell you that, based upon the information that we've been able to develop from interviews and from the video surveillance, he did not properly inspect the Safe Harbor Prison Dog van as it left with Toby Young driving and John Manard hidden in a dog crate in the back of the van," Miskell said.

The officer was notified Monday of his proposed firing, Miskell said, and suspended with pay, Under civil service regulations, the officer will have the opportunity to discuss the action with McKune. After that time, McKune will make the decision about whether to finalize the proposal, modify it, or withdraw the action.

Miskell said McKune likely would make his decision by the end of this week.

If the officer disagrees with any disciplinary action that is imposed, he can appeal to the State Civil Service Board. Only then would the officer's name be made public by the state, Miskell said.

Calls to Lansing Local 3371 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents corrections officers at the prison, have gone unanswered. The local's president did not respond to an e-mail inquiry Monday evening.

Meanwhile, authorities are actively continuing the search for Manard and Young with the help of local, state and national law enforcement agencies.

"We have notified authorities from both Mexico and Canada that John Manard has escaped has escaped for the Lansing Correctional Facility and Toby Young is believed to be with him," Miskell said.

Last week, authorities asked for the public's help in spotting the pair - who may have disguised themselves since the breakout. Videotape from a Kansas City-area store captured Young purchasing an electric razor and black or dark brown hair dye prior to the escape. The two also are believed to have more than $10,000 in cash and two semiautomatic handguns.

Authorities also have asked the public's help in finding someone who may have sold a 1998-2000 blue Chevrolet sport utility vehicle within the past month or so to Young.

They believe Young and Manard left the Safe Harbor van at a Bonner Springs storage facility for the SUV.

Anyone with information about the duo or the SUV can call the prison, 727-3235.

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