Police Abuse

Former Georgia Corrections Commissioner Supports Lawsuit Over Jailhouse "Rapid Response Team" Abuses

Says it's become a "first resort"

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compliance
via My Fox Atlanta

Several former inmates of a county jail in Georgia allege in a class action lawsuit filed last year that the Gwinnett County sheriff and his"rapid response team" abused the use of restraint chairs at the jail, leaving inmates in it for hours at a time. The Gwinnett Daily Post describes what it saw of the practice, apparently used more than 200 times in the six months before the lawsuit was filed last summer:

The rapid response team is a SWAT-style group made up of highly trained deputies. Videos previously viewed by the Daily Post show members, upon being summoned, staging outside a cell in helmets, vests and masks before entering, pinning down the inmate in question and putting them in the chair. Some were shot with pepperballs prior to deputies entering the cell.

Last week, a former Georgia Department of Corrections commissioner who spent 40 years working in the system, filed a report in favor of the lawsuit's claims. Via the Post:

[Allen] Ault's thoughts included the following:

— "In my opinion, the problem is not how they conduct a takedown, but rather, the almost total indiscriminate use of the RRT that have now become standard practice in the jail."

— "Although it would be a daunting task to get the actual number of deployments of other Response Teams, I would venture to state, based upon my experience in the field and without fear of contradiction, that the Gwinnett County RRT has been deployed more often in the last thirteen years then (sic) the combined total of all other County, State and Federal facilities located in the state of Georgia."

— "Instead of the RRT being deployed as the last resort, it is being deployed as the first choice of preference by staff to handle a 'problem' inmate. Upon arrival, the RRT routinely uses force where no force is justified."

— "It was also obvious that it was being used to punish some individuals who had been 'vulgar' in either language and/or deed in 'reception' or elsewhere in the jail before being placed in a cell."

— "… way too often, in my opinion the 'takedown' and the use of the 'restraint chair' is a ruse for implementing excessive force."

The alleged misuse of law enforcement tools to hide excessive force is not unique to Georgia. A recent newspaper report in Philadelphia chronicled the apparent return of the "nickel ride," when police drive vans recklessly to inflict injury on detainee passengers. As Alonzo Harris, the crooked cop in Training Day played by Denzel Washington, observed after a use of excessive force, "it's not what you know, it's what you can prove." Police unions and deferential local governments have often helped make even that not enough.

You can watch Gwinnett County's rapid response team in action here:

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  1. “In my opinion, the problem is not how they conduct a takedown, but rather, the almost total indiscriminate use of the RRT that have now become standard practice in the jail.”

    Umm SWAT much?

    1. Officer safety! Don’t you want those officers to go home safe at the end of their shift?

      1. You can’t just say “officer safety” and let these cops get away with whatever they want. If you don’t think police abuse their power and need checks, you are living in another universe.

        I want people who have not been convicted of any crime to be able to go home safe, especially from any encounter with the group of people that is supposed to be protecting us.

        Remember, we only hear about the well-documented cases that happen to have firm evidence available, not the incidents where there is no evidence or where no one complains due to intimidation or threats.

  2. If we’re actually finding out about this stuff, how much is going on that isn’t reported? I think we all realize that almost anything could go on in these jails and pretty much nothing would be done about it. I mean, they’re just fucking criminals, right? Fuck them.

  3. Instead of the RRT being deployed as the last resort, it is being deployed as the first choice of preference by staff…

    Where else have we seen authorities choosing to begin an interaction at the most escalated state?

  4. What’s the point of using force if you’re not going to use it excessively?

    1. It’s all good as long as they keep yelling “STOP RESISTING!”

  5. The problem is, they weren’t trained to not leave inmates in restraint chairs all day.

  6. The links in this article are all screwed up.

  7. They’re just following orders.

  8. If I were an officer, I would be outraged at things like this happening, because the police do serve a useful purpose, they’re just crooked and untrustworthy, have no integrity, and are cowards because they won’t stand up for the right thing, most of the time. They’d rather follow their code and protect fellow officers instead of setting right a system that is broken. Lazy and cowardly.

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