Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Eliot Spitzer, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182

For immediate release:

August 30, 2007

Civilian Employees at State Correctional Facilities to Receive State-of-the-Art Personal Alarms

Devices will enhance safety by pinpointing exact location of employees in emergencies at medium- and maximum-security facilities

ALBANY - Nearly 10,000 civilian employees who work at medium- and maximum-security correctional facilities across New York State will be receiving new personal alarms that can pinpoint their exact location in the event of an emergency, the New York State Department of Correctional Services, Public Employees Federation and Civil Service Employees Association announced today.

The planned three-year project is set to begin at Elmira, Auburn and Gowanda Correctional Facilities.

Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with Tom Donahue, DOCS PEF Statewide Labor/Management Chair, and Patricia Casler, DOCS CSEA Statewide Labor/Management Chair, to launch the program, which is also scheduled to result in personal alarm upgrades at Mid-State, Sing Sing, Bedford, Clinton and possibly other correctional facilities in 2007-08.

The new alarms will be provided to PEF and CSEA teachers, nurses, secretaries, mechanics, maintenance workers and others in administration and support, health and program services.

When an employee calls for help in an emergency, a signal is sent to a central console, which shows graphically the location of the caller and direction of travel, allowing staff to be dispatched to the precise trouble spot.

Civilian employees currently have personal alarms. The Bosch Security Escort Personal Alarm System devices represent an upgrade that reflects state-of-the-art technology. The Bosch devices will further enhance the personal alarm and radio communication systems that currently exist at all correctional facilities for uniformed security staff.

Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer said: “Safety comes first at our correctional facilities, and these new alarms should give all of our employees the peace of mind that help will be there as quickly as possible in an emergency. The number of assaults on our staff has declined significantly over the last two decades, and this improvement in technology should help make our facilities even safer.”

CSEA President Danny Donohue said: “This will save lives by improving the safety and security of civilian employees who work with inmates. Worksite security is one of CSEA’s highest priorities and we are pleased that we were able to achieve this important advance through labor-management cooperation."

DOCS PEF Statewide Labor/Management Chair Tom Donahue said: "The new state-of-the-art personal alarm devices will greatly enhance the safety of our members. It provides the ability to track a person throughout the facility in the event of an emergency."

Larry Flanagan, president of the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, Inc., which represents correction officers and sergeants, said: “The well-being of DOCS’ staff, patients and inmates is the top priority of the more than 23,000 NYSCOPBA members. Today’s announcement will go a long way to increasing the safety and security of thousands of DOCS employees. With this new tool, communication efficiency and effectiveness will drastically improve, and will make a significant contribution to keeping New York’s prison system one of the safest in the nation.”

Employees who have contact with inmates will be required to wear the alarms. The Bosch devices will be purchased through a New York State Office of General Services contract.

The Department’s extensive testing and evaluation of the new devices began with a prototype at Sullivan Correctional Facility in 2005. Three months of testing involving 15 civilian staff and union representatives at the facility hospital and Behavioral Health Unit yielded positive results.

DOCS’ budget for 2007-08 includes $1.5 million for the purchase.