Prison system to activate SWAT teams for New Year's holiday (NY) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Prison system to activate SWAT teams for New Year's holiday

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The state prison system's 20 SWAT teams will be on duty when New Year's Eve arrives to respond to possible unrest inside prisons or disruptions in communities outside prison walls, officials said Monday.

The units - called Correction Emergency Response Teams - will be stationed geographically so they can respond quickly to problems in any of the state's 70 prisons, prisons spokesman James Flateau said.

About 1,000 guards and supervisors make up the teams. They are specially trained to deal with prison search-and-seizure operations, inmate demonstrations and other situations that could arise in correctional facilities.

Though prison administrators are concerned about a possible inmate strike or other disruptions on or about the New Year's, Flateau said they also want the units to be in place in case they are needed elsewhere.

"We have found in the past that our staff has very often served as back-up to assisting communities" during emergencies, Flateau said. "With the Y2K thing, we just thought that if we wind up with snowstorms, ice storm, that we don't want to be in the position of that night or nearly the next morning having to assemble staff."

As far as the Y2K bug and prison computers and other electronics are concerned, "We think all of our systems are going to work," he said.

Flateau would not say when the CERT teams would be in place nor when they would be disbanded. He said each prison also plans to have between 15 and 20 extra guards on duty to deal with any other problems.

Word of the stationing of the riot teams could be designed to deter inmates from engaging in demonstrations which have been rumored for weeks. A pamphlet found on some inmates titled "Wake Up!" calls for an inmate strike to protest Gov. George Pataki's tougher parole policies and prison labor issues.

Both Green Haven state prison in Stormville, about 50 miles north of New York City, and at Sing Sing, 25 miles north of New York City, remained locked down Monday for a fourth day. Inmates there were eating in their cells and only being allowed out to see visitors and for emergency medical care.

Forty inmates were transferred from Green Haven on Friday to other maximum-security prisons after officials said they were trying to "strong arm" other inmates into participating in a strike.

Sing Sing was locked down after five rounds of 9 mm ammunition was found hidden in a common area of the facility. Flateau said the lockdown would continue as long as it took to conduct a cell-by-cell search of the 1,800-inmate facility, between 10 days and 14 days.

AP-ES-12-27-99 1517EST<

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 27, 1999

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