The union representing jail guards says a correctional officer at the Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) in Oliver was violently assaulted by an inmate on Tuesday.
Dean Purdy, with the Government Employees union said the officer was approached from behind and “sucker punched” before he was knocked to the ground and struck “several more times in the face.”
“Something has to give and something has to change because we can’t keep having correctional officers assaulted in this fashion because our biggest fear is somebody someone is going to die,” Purdy said.
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Purdy has criticized what he calls unsafe officer-to-inmate ratios at the recently opened jail, which have crept up to as high as 60 inmates with one officer in a living unit, according to Purdy.
BC Corrections has confirmed the assault and said there were three officers on the unit and approximately 37 inmates at the time.
Purdy said he plans to meet with the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, “in the near future” to air his grievances about violence in B.C. jails.
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BC Corrections said there were 94 inmate-on-inmate assaults and eight assaults on jail staff in 2017 at OCC.
Farnworth toured the new Oliver correctional centre for the first time last Friday and told local media that more staff will be hired.
“We know that there are recruitment and retention issues, and in the facility here, there is hiring that is still going on that will help in that regard,” Farnworth said.
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Oliver RCMP are investigating the officer assault.
“BC Corrections has a zero tolerance policy on violence and the safety of our staff and inmates is always our number one priority,” said a statement from BC Corrections.