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May 15th, 2011 | By | Category: Cell phones, Security, Unions
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Prison union balks at staff searches

Michael Montgomery | California Watch

Random staff searches that are part of an effort to curb the smuggling of cell phones into state prisons are drawing objections from the powerful union representing correctional officers.

At issue is a two-year program – known as Operation Disconnect – that requires all adult prisons to conduct monthly searches of employees and others as they enter state facilities.

Fewer than 500 cell phones have been confiscated under the program, though some lawmakers still suspect prison employees are the main suppliers of cell phones that are reaching inmates in ever-larger numbers.

But Joe Baumann, a chapter president with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said the modest results suggest the program is targeting the wrong people.

“Staff are just a small part of the problem,” he said. “If an employee is dirty, word gets out pretty quickly.”

Baumann said the union has complained to state officials that the searches are misguided and overly intrusive.

“There are no boundaries as far as how invasive the searches are,” he said. “People have had to take off jumpsuits, pull off vests, pull up T-shirts. They’re setting themselves up for litigation with the way they’re doing this.”

Baumann declined to say whether the union has any immediate plans to challenge the program with a lawsuit but he warned that “something is going to have to happen” if the department fails to make changes…(full text at California Watch

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