Walczyk, Ritchie applaud move to better protect correction officers

News release

WATERTOWN, NY —  Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, State Senator Patty Ritchie and NYSCOPBA President Michael Powers are applauding the recent decision by the Acting Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to begin expanding the use of drug-sniffing dogs to combat the increase in contraband throughout our state correctional facilities.

Acting DOCCS Commissioner Annucci has indicated that upon receiving recommendations from the Prison Violence Task Force (PVTF), the Department will begin taking steps to place drug-sniffing canine (K9) teams in most state prisons.  For years, Walczyk has pushed for legislation that he and Senator Patty Ritchie sponsor that would place one drug sniffing canine in every correctional facility across New York.  While Assemblyman Walczyk will continue to fight for this measure, he’s pleased to see that DOCCS sees the value and effectiveness drug sniffing dogs have on keeping dangerous contraband out of state prisons.

This is a huge step toward cracking down on the smuggling of contraband into correctional facilities across the state.

“While I certainly don’t see eye-to-eye with Acting Commissioner Annucci all of the time, I’d like to thank him for implementing portions of legislation I sponsor, that will place drug-sniffing K9s in most facilities across the state,” said Assemblyman Mark Walczyk.  “COs have seen Albany lawmakers turn their backs on them, especially after HALT went into effect.  This move is the least the state could do to better protect correctional officers.  The Department got this one right.

“Skyrocketing violence inside the walls of New York’s prisons has made it absolutely critical that steps are taken to keep the men and women who work there, as well as the incarcerated, safe,” said Senator Patty Ritchie. “For a long time now, I have advocated for expanded use of drug-sniffing dogs in our prisons. This action will go a long way toward reducing the influx of drugs and other contraband into facilities and in turn, better protect our hardworking correctional officers and other staff, as well as the incarcerated.”

“NYSCOPBA has advocated for years for DOCCS to increase the number of K9 teams to help stem the flow of contraband being brought into correctional facilities through inmate visits.  K9 teams are extremely successful in detecting dangerous drugs that are being brought into facilities and having additional teams at staff’s disposal will detect contraband and deter visitors from attempting to smuggle drugs and other contraband into inmates.

On behalf of the members of NYSCOPBA, I would like to thank Assemblyman Walczyk and Senator Ritchie for supporting this important measure that will help reduce contraband levels and increase the safety of our correctional facilities. “stated Michael B. Powers, NYSCOPBA President.