The Gangs Control Rikers

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This story should awaken every member of service (MOS) because not just your career may be at stake – your freedom comes into play as well.  When it involves law enforcement; we get to see how the system works when it’s in color.

In the Department of Correction (DOC), at any given time officers may have to respond to alarms, which may entail force being used. No one likes to use force, but unfortunately, alarms are sounded every half hour somewhere on Rikers Island.

The ongoing gang situation has found a place on Rikers Island and October has been set aside as “Blood Month,� by detainees belonging to the notorious Blood gang. Their identification is to wear the color red and to cut or assault someone for a higher rank – an officer can be worth lots of points.

Last October, several officers on Rikers Island were injured by detainees belonging to the Bloods. Officer Alan Gold was working at the Anna M. Kross Center (AMKC) assigned to a dormitory housing area supervising approximately 45-50 alleged mental health detainees – an area known for gang violence.

On October 5, 2005, Officer Gold was attacked and cut on the chin near his jugular vein. This attack sparked an alarm in the jail where several officers had to respond. The weapon used against Officer Gold was the back of a watch sharpened like a razor.  Officer Joseph Collins arrived to the emergency scene and began to get control by using force with his hands.

When an alarm is sounded in the jail, officers must respond wearing a helmet, vest and a baton – guns are not allowed in the jails.  However, the only smoking gun in this case appears to be the city’s Department of Investigation and the Bronx DA who arrested Officer Collins and Captain Anastasia Henderson for doing their job.

The control in this unit was lost, a weapon, or weapons were still in the area and most of the detainees were running around making gunshot sounds with their mouth. “They kept saying, blat-blat-blat! They were not responding to verbal commands and the area was not safe,� recalls Collins.

It is very important to keep control in these jails. Two years ago in the mental health unit a detainee was beaten so badly by other detainees that he later died from his injuries – a family member stated he gave information to DOI about the gang activity in the unit and was labeled a snitch. An officer was said to be involved, but he pleaded the fifth at a trial in the Bronx and was allowed to retire. 

The unit is now monitored by a camera, which observed Officer Collins using force to gain control and secure the area. “I had nothing to hide. I responded to a 10-13, it’s in my report that I used force and the inmate I had was not injured,� stated Officer Collins, a 20 year member of the DOC. A 10-13 call is when an officer is down. At the time of the emergency situation he was hours away from his own retirement. He did not even have to respond to that alarm, but he did.

On February 24, Officer Collins appeared at the Bronx Supreme Court with his attorney Louis I. Albert, after being arrested and charged with filing a false business record, assault, official misconduct and harassment. Instead of retirement – he now faces four years in prison. Do these charges appear as overkill to you?

As many as a hundred officers from the Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), Executive Board and Correction Captain Association (CCA) Executive Board packed the courtroom in support for Officer Collins’ while a Bronx Assistant District Attorney asked for jail time. I was unable to contact Officer Gold before press time. I learned he was reassigned to an outside security post. Detainees allegedly injured in the melee have a lawsuit against the DOC, which probably sparked these arrests.

I cannot help remembering the shooting of Amadou Diallo, a young man standing in his Bronx doorway and murdered by four plain-clothes policemen who were with their supervisor. These officers were armed to the teeth – yet excuses were made for how afraid they had been. Their trial was moved from the Bronx to Albany—there was no jail time and the supervisor never was charged or ordered to write a report. By the way, the number of reported shots and that wallet story – I never bought that crap when I read it. But, that’s me.   
Officer Collins’ case was adjourned to March 7, at 2:15 P.M.  However, Captain Henderson will have a hearing in the same courtroom scheduled for March 3rd at 9:00 A.M. at the Bronx State Supreme Court.  I will continue to follow these stories as they develop.

If you have any comments or have a matter that needs to be exposed please contact Winkfield for his consideration by writing to:  On The Spot, Post Office Box 230149, Queens County 11423. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]. You can also call (212) 481-7745. Speaking Truth To Power.

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