April, 2014

On Friday, March 21, First Vice President Billy Inman and I met our new Commissioner, Joseph Ponte, at the Bulova Building. First Deputy Commissioner Mark Cranston also attended.

We discussed many issues that directly concern all of our Captains. We told Commissioner Ponte about the unfair treatment from the Investigations Division, especially when it comes to charges being filed against staff. In many instances, ID investigators, who mainly are civilians who never worked a single tour behind the gates, never give our Captains the benefit of the doubt. We spoke of the excessive penalties being proposed at the pre-trial OATH hearings, and how it appears that the department's only interest is in taking as many vacation days away from Captains.

We made it crystal clear that morale is at an all-time low and he faces many difficult challenges ahead. Billy and I spoke of was the amount of work that is expected from a Captain each and every day. We told Commissioner Ponte that a Captain is expected to make three tours of inspection of their areas, daily searches, special searches, supervision of movement in the corridors, supervision in the mess halls and in-house feedings, responding to alarms, responding to problems in their areas of supervision and are still expected to complete paperwork on time. When a Captain has all of these duties, it is virtually impossible to complete injury reports, infractions, PHD's, COD investigations, 311 complaints and all the other repetitive paperwork the department generates on time. Commissioner Ponte was told that we have Captains taking work home with them, staying on their own time - even after working a 16 ½ hour day - and coming in on their day off to complete paperwork. We told him that the reason why the Captains are doing this is because they are being threatened by management to be written up on charges and to be demoted if they turn in paperwork late. Commissioner Ponte was told that we have had many new Captains rescind the promotion all because of the workload and threats - the stress of being promoted is too much for some people to deal with.

The last topic of discussion was the concern over the disbanding of punitive segregation. We told him, in no uncertain terms, that the CCA will not support the elimination of punitive segregation for any inmate who violates the rules of conduct and poses a threat to the safety of any staff or other inmate. Everyone person who works in a NYC Correction Department facility - as well as the inmates who are incarcerated there - is entitled to go behind the gates and leave there exactly as they walked in. No one should dread going to work. Punitive segregation is an important tool that must continue to be utilized.

Commissioner Ponte officially takes office on April 7th. We will remain cautiously optimistic. The CCA will keep an open mind as to any changes that might be coming but we will not compromise the safety and security of any of our Captains - or anyone else, for that matter. We ask that you keep us informed about anything that you feel is of concern immediately. We are here to support and protect our Captains.