DOC: Officers failed to conduct security measures

Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose are escorted into Putnam County Superior Courtroom by Putnam County Sheriff's Office officers June 20 for their first appearance hearing. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Georgia Department of Corrections posted the following notice Friday, July 21, regarding its investigation of the escape of inmates Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose from a DOC transport bus on the Sparta Highway in Eatonton in the early morning of June 13.

Two GDOC officers, Sgt. Curtis Billue and Sgt. Christopher Monica, were slain during the inmates’ escape. The inmates were captured a few days later in Tennessee.

GDC SHARES FINDINGS OF AFTER ACTION REVIEW PANEL

State Agency Partners Participate

FORSYTH, GA. – Corrections Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier has announced the findings of both external and internal After Action Review Panels in the aftermath of the June 13 escape, and tragic loss of two of Officers. The external panel was tasked with conducting a thorough review of the incident and related internal inmate transport procedures and policies, while the internal team reviewed the overall transportation process. Both teams were assembled and began their reviews immediately following the capture of Dubose and Rowe.

Commissioner Dozier first reiterated the gravity of the incident, and said, “Our hearts remain heavy for the losses to the families, our agency and our state. We ask for your continued prayers for Sergeants Billue and Monica’s family and friends, who will be trying to make sense of this heinous, violent act in the days, months and years to come.”

Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding last month’s tragedy, Commissioner Dozier requested assistance by other law enforcement partners to ensure any and all possible recommendations were considered and underwent a thorough review. Representatives from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources participated in an external review and assessment of the incident, and have provided valuable insight and recommendations for future consideration.

Additionally, GDC simultaneously assembled an internal team, responsible for review of existing processes and procedures related to the overall inmate transport process. The internal panel consists of subject matter experts from within GDC with a broad range of backgrounds, including security, training, transportation, legal, and intelligence.

In the days following the incident and ultimate capture, GDC took immediate short-term actions to implement the following:

  • Refresher Training for all Transport Officers
  • Trailing Vehicle assigned to each transport bus
  • Duty Officer at each facility, assigned to ensure compliance of transport procedures

Furthermore, the presentation of findings of the external review panel revealed several security breaches outside standard policies. Those breaches were, failure to search inmates prior to boarding bus, failure to double-lock handcuffs, failure to continuously supervise inmates on bus, failure to lock the door separating driver compartment from inmate compartment, and failure to wear assigned duty equipment.

As a direct result of these findings, additional recommendations are also being reviewed and considered, and include:

  • Installation of key retaining padlocks on gates in transport buses
  • Expanded role of facility Chief of Security to include supervision of:
    • Verification of double-locked cuffs
    • Weapons not issued unless Officers wearing assigned duty gear
    • Oversight of pre-load checklist to verify bus equipment operational
  • Permanent addition of trail vehicle
  • Video coverage of entire transport bus
  • Annual Refresher Training required for all Transport Officers

“Everything is on the table and up for discussion,” said Commissioner Dozier. “Any recommendations made by the teams that may enhance our procedures and impact the safety of our Officers and the public will seriously be considered for implementation.”

Commissioner Dozier added, “We must remain vigilant and do everything within our power to ensure this type of tragedy never happens again.”

The GDC has one of the largest prison systems in the U.S. and is responsible for supervising nearly 52,000 state prisoners. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 10,500 employees.

 

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