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High Risk Inmate Transport

STL Joseph Garcia

Inmate Classification

Depending on the agency, inmate classification is often a game of hit or miss. More often than not, agency classification personnel miss. Unfortunately, some agencies tend to waste time and resource because they misunderstand the difference between High Profile and High Threat.

For example, violent inmates might be categorized as HTI-1 – 4 depending on the inmate’s history, affiliation and background (the lower the number, the lower the threat). There are many considerations that make an inmate move up or down on the HT scale (for security reasons a classified version can be requested later).

HPIs (High Profile Inmates) for example require different types of resources and personnel, primarily due to the crowds and media attention they often receive. We use the HP1 – 2 scale as these inmates fall into two categories:

  • The inmate is known to the public (Movie Star, Public Official, Community Leader or Activist)
  • The inmate has committed a very public crime (like the Rhode Island Night Club Fire tragedy or the mother who drowned her four sons in Texas)

Normally the threat during transporting these inmates comes from crowds trying to get a glimpse, take a photo, or make a statement of support or outrage. These types of groups normally evolve into a situation that requires a large contingency of crowd control specialists.

Rethink Your HRIT Officer Training

Joe Numa is one of the nation’s foremost shooters – a leader in the field of tactical firearms training. Joe – a personal friend of mine – is considered in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia areas as a true firearms teacher. Joe could probably teach a monkey to shoot and shoot well (no pun intended). “Nume” (to those who know him) understands what it takes to make a good shooter and the seriousness of getting into a shooting confrontation. Nume passionately, patiently and persistently passes on his real-world shooting experience to his fellow operators.

When I asked him about the shooting requirements of today’s HRIT Operator certification program, he immediately mentioned the following critical areas:

  • Shooting from vehicles
  • Passing a HRIT PT test
  • Active DT Training
  • Qualify and pass HRIT school
  • Pass Agency SOP
  • Knowledge of and ability to conduct Emergency Recovery Operations
  • Plan and Conduct High Security Operations
  • HRIT Driving: Advanced driver / Security Driving School

The New HRIT Officer

Even without the kind of advanced training advocated by Joe Numa and US C-SOG, if you want to become a modern HRIT Officer, here are some immediate actions you can take:

  • Always search an inmate whom you are transporting – regardless of whether or not he or she has been searched before. Like the old Russian saying goes: “Trust. But verify.”
  • Be familiar with the history of the inmate whom you are transporting: Once a rabbit always a rabbit.
  • Try using those Colored ASP handcuffs: Many agencies have excellent code uses for these handcuffs.
  • Get in shape. Start by improving your cardiovascular fitness, then move on to improving your bulk.
  • Check in with your DT instructors and take a class on weapon retention.
  • Check with your firearms instructors and get in some dynamic shooting time.
  • Again: Never take anyone’s word that the inmate has been searched. Do it again. You can’t be too diligent.
  • Always check your inmate seating area.
  • Never transport an inmate in a vehicle that does not have a certified cage or shatter-resistant windows.
  • Always scan the area when moving with an inmate.
  • Be prepared to move and act decisively to counter an escape attempt.
  • If attacked, remember your number one priority is to stay alive. Stay in control and stay in the fight.

A Note for Administrators

Inmates have 24 / 7 / 365 to plot and prepare their escapes. You only have one chance to get it right. Count for a second and ask yourself how many plans are being prepared by inmates to escape today or this week, this month, or this year? Whatever it costs you to train your team in HRIT, it’s far cheaper than the potentially disastrous results of a successful escape attempt.

Your people speak for you and your HRIT speaks volumes of how the public perceives your agency. Your HRIT program and its officers cannot afford to be lax. If an inmate escapes or an officer has a bad shooting, your department could be hurt or even worse an officer could be killed. We have seen administrators replaced, fired for such incidents.

The next time you see one of your transport vehicles leave your facility, ask yourself, have we done everything to train that team? If the answer is “no” and you feel your heart skip a beat, resolve that the next time you send out a transport detail, you’ll know for a certainty that it has the best personnel armed with the best equipment and that the personnel are fully trained.

Now is the time to move forward and do something before it happens!

  • Pug_max600_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Excellent. Bilingual is always a plus.

  • Us-prisoner-service-badge_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great article. is now looking for bilingual prisoner transport and recovery agents.
    Prisoner Transport

  • Image_max50


    over 4 years ago


    swattglockette: What would make you assume that Detention Officers are not sworn?

  • Thinker_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Luckily I had very little to do with inmate transport except to take an arrestee to jail for booking after arrest, occasionally picking up arrestees for their first court appearance, and I didn't even like doing that as I hate entering that sally port and having it close behind me. Must be a bit claustrophobic! I respect those who do this as their primary job because I feel as the article states; this is the inmates’ best chance to escape.

    Now as a training coordinator, one of the classes we give is detainee transport and many of the items mentioned in this article are covered in our 8-hour mandatory class. Luckily my present agency takes prisoner transport very seriously and we have the proper vehicles, cages, restraints and shackles, and provide the proper training...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    For those LEO's who have worked in a Transportation Unit/Division, was the section all sworn or was it a combination of sworn/non-sworn (detention officers)? I can imagine the pros/cons for both situations, but from first hand experience, what issues did you have?

  • Me_nam_max50


    about 5 years ago


    this is outstanding LE media and people tasked with protection and transporting understand offense to anyone...but if can't move like these warriors...stand aside.....Semper Fi

  • Me_nam_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Administrators have to learn that risk factors today are being enhanced by not leveraging their "tip of the spear" types to the jobs THEY should be doing. They should all have toy rooms that they can draw on duty equipment from. Good tactical equipment: firepower, comm, optics, reach out and touch someone gear blah, blah, blah. Bad bsiness not having a tactical CO and having to abide by people who do not know how to crawl through the bush. I'll take one of those new style M14's and give me some of that 1x night optics, and three or four brothers and sisters who have their own toys too. Transporting today....especially gang related!!
    Give me a break boss...let me go home at night eh! There's a WAR ON out there boss!

  • Picture_of_jim_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Worked in NYC Department of Corrections (Riker's Island) Transportation Division in the late seventies and early eighties.....we were taught all of this by the training officersa and our partners. You had to progress through the ranks as you got the assignments. Supervision was close as it could get. We always checked out our vans before we started work for the day, after we dropped the inmates off at one place before getting inmates to transport to another place. I did hospital runs as a brand new officer. It was not an assignment that the brass gave out haphazardly either. We worked iwth trial inmates, states prisoners down for transfers to and from court on appeals, federal prisoners, women and youths from the age of twelve on up.

    Yes twelve year olds in JODC (Juvenile Detention Facilitry) in one half of the old woman's house on Rikers. Too hot to handle at Spofford (usually in on multiple homicides...yes you read that correctly).

    We had the gamut from terrorists (FALN, Pantehers, Weathermen) no name it we transported and watched.

    Great article...told it like it is...know who you are dealing with, trust and verify the paperworkm watch the inmates (they are not your friends...but sometimes will help....surprising as it seems), and mosty of all scan your surroundings at all times.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    about 5 years ago


    Prisons are overcrowded and there are too many fugitives on the street. We're looking for quality guys. Check us out on the web.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    For 15 years I was a Transportation Deputy Sheriff in Florida I moved many death row inmates.We picked up prisoners from Miami to Pensacola,on two day trips without any problems.I also worked with the US Marshals Office,flying included.It was a great job if you gave respect you recieved respect and and easier trip.I loved it the high stress and high blood pressure.

  • Shoot_dont_shoot_firing_my_weapon_1985_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I was in fugitive for 1/3rd of my law enforcement years. I never had a problem with any whom I transported for they heard from me the way the cow eats the cabbage that told them what would happen....and that for the rest of their life they'd remember my name in their nightmares.
    I alos worked with the Marshals office as well with federal transportation....never had a problem....

  • Img_0933_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Great info

  • Sdc14247_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Great article!!

  • Wind_therapy-_angel_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Great article, all departments should follow this.
    Officers would lower risk of injury, Inmates would properly be moved to next location. These transport officers are the only thing standing between an inmates freedom verse Life in prison, I'm thinking only highly trained vigilant officers should even be considered for this position. Not only is the untrained officer in danger But, the public is put in danger when this desperate inmate has escaped.
    Stay Safe...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    If this was adopted by all departments the number of escapes and injured staff would go down

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