ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Today police officers complained about safety at the St. Louis Justice Center jail. Two officers, with direct knowledge about problems, testified to St. Louis Corrections Task Force members. They said their warnings have gone unanswered.
Lt. Pierre Benoist, Commander of the warrant fugitive unit, and Sgt Collin Tully, deputy commander of prisoner processing both testified before the panel, which was appointed after the February riot that could be seen on live television. At the time of the riot, the public safety director said those inmates could not escape. The testifying officers, however, said there are problems on the first floor that could allow escape.
Sgt. Tully said, “…certain doors not closing when arrestees have direct access to our area of the first floor and get out of the building.”
Tully works the first floor, which is the prisoner processing part of the Justice Center and run by St. Louis police. The upper floors are operated by the St. Louis Corrections department.
Sgt. Tully wrote a memo dated February 10th, raising concerns about corrections operations. He said, “They’re not even responding at all saying we’re sorry we can’t help you. There’s just no response at all.”
His memo included warnings about delays in getting corrections to move processed prisoners upstairs to their assigned cells. In one case he said delays led an inmate to stay in isolation longer than necessary. Tully added, “No one would take this person to court and therefore they missed their court date and had to stay in custody an extra couple days because the next court hearing was the following what have you.”
He also raised concerns over a broken buzzer system – for emergency communication.
Tully said, “The attention buzzer has not been fixed. We went to put a sign, ha, on the outside entrance that says please call this number.”
One month has passed since Sgt. Tully wrote up that warning memo. He said they still have received no response from Corrections.
The Mayor’s office, which appointed the Corrections Task Force, says it looks forward to reviewing the panel’s findings and recommendations, which are due this month.