Archive for Thursday, March 2, 2006

Warden terminates officer for not searching van

March 2, 2006

Lax adherence to procedures of a corrections officer at Lansing Correctional Facility that allowed convicted killer John Manard to escape wasn't confined to the morning of the incident, state corrections officials said Friday.

In the three weeks prior to the Feb. 12 escape, the same officer on five occasions let the Safe Harbor Prison Dogs van exit the prison without properly searching it, the Department of Corrections said.

The revelation was contained in a news release announcing the officer's firing. The officer's name was not released.

"Five times including the date of the escape, he did not properly search that van," said Bill Miskell, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections. "There was a pattern."

Miskell said investigators discovered the officer's neglect during their investigation into the escape.

Manard was hidden in a dog crate in the back of that van as it was driven out of the correctional facility by Toby Young, president of the Safe Harbor Prison Dog program.

"Anytime we have an incident of this nature, we're going to do an exhaustive review of the circumstances surrounding that incident," Miskell said. "Part of that included reviewing surveillance video of the turnaround gate and what was done as vehicles go in and out of the turnaround gate."

Miskell had said in the past that the officer's familiarity with Young helped her pull off the escape plot.

With Warden Dave McKune's decision to fire the guard, the next level of appeal for the firing would be with the State Civil Service Board. If he decides to appeal, the guard must make a written request for a hearing with the board no later than 30 calendar days after the effective date of the dismissal. A hearing then is required to take place within 45 days after the request is made.

State law requires the burden of proof be on the employee to establish that McKune did not act reasonably in taking the action.

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