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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Correctional Officers’ Actions Misrepresented

By Brad Wilson  

January 11, 2016
Monday PM

The video of Mr. Kobuk recently released by the State contained images of Correctional Officers performing required duties as directed by Department of Corrections’ Policy and Procedure and in accordance with their training. Without educating the public, or even giving the policies that govern Officers’ actions, the Governor’s Investigator, Dean Williams’ publication and analysis of the video is deceptive. We had asked Dean Williams, prior to the release of this latest video, to let us do a report and explain to him the inaccuracies in his Administrative Review. Correctional Officers believe that the Governor has not been given accurate information about State polices dictating Correctional Officer’s actions.

“The Officers depicted in the January 27, 2015 video with inmate Larry Kobuk acted appropriately, per policy, and in accordance with national correctional practices.”
Randy McLellan, ACOA President

During the intake process it is standard practice for Correctional Officers to assist when Police or State Troopers need articles of clothing, photos, or other evidence. Mr. Kobuk was non-compliant and refused to cooperate with Police and Correctional Officers’ orders to relinquish his outer clothing. The Officers then followed standard procedures to take the non-compliant inmate to the ground and remove his clothing. Mr. Williams’ inaccurate insinuation that the Officers in the video are responsible for Mr. Kobuk’s death presents an unprecedented and defamatory attack on the Officers and their families and puts all Officers at risk.

These Officers are innocent. Dean Williams knew the Department of Corrections reviewed this incident and concluded that the “methods employed during the restraint process were not found to be excessive.” If Dean Williams had contacted any national or local corrections experts, or had performed more than a superficial review, he would have known the Officers’ acted appropriately. In what was supposed to be an impartial investigation it is our understanding that Dean Williams did not even speak to the Officers shown in this video.

“I have reviewed the video released by the Governor's office. I can find no inappropriate behavior or excessive force on behalf of the staff. I see no aggression in their actions or in their response to the inmates decision to not remove his clothing. The take down was standard operating procedure, using the minimal force needed, as was the removal of the inmates clothing. The Officers preformed professionally given the environment, existing policy [and] the inmates decision to not cooperate. It is always unfortunate when an incident like this occurs, however I can find no fault with the Officers performance.”
Brian Dawe, American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network

“This was reviewed by Correctional Personnel, institutional security personal, trainers and now by national experts. Not one person with actual Adult Correctional Law Enforcement experience who viewed this video saw anything wrong with the Officers’ actions”
Brad Wilson, ACOA Business Manager

Officers are now being publicly criticized, when for years they have been the ones who have continuously asked that safety and security in the institutions be made a top priority. The release of this video, without proper explanation, does nothing more than undermine and demoralize Correctional Officers statewide, using them as scapegoats to unnecessarily divert attention from the systemic problems throughout the Department of Corrections including inmate deaths. If the State is going to allow Dean Williams to propagate videos without proper explanation and thereby expose Correctional Officers to unnecessary ridicule and harm, then the State should make good on its word and address the safety issues Correctional Officers have been asking to be addressed for years.

Our sympathies go out to Mr. Kobuk’s family and while it is terrible that he passed away, to blame the Officers who did not set the policies or training, but followed them to the letter, is wrong. Correctional Officers commend Department of Corrections Commissioner Walt Monegan and Director Dean Marshall for their support of the Correctional Officer involved in this incident. Correctional Officers are counting on the Governor to publically correct the record and defend the actions of these Officers.

Brad Wilson,
ACOA Business Manager
Alaska Correctional Officers Association
Anchorage, Alaska

Received January 07, 2016 - Published January 11, 2015



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