What would you do? Too many inmates, too few officers

An officer with too much on his plate knows he will be disciplined if he doesn't report his tours correctly. What would you do in this situation?


Check out the scenario below and add your thoughts in the comments. If you are not a CorrectionsOne verified member, it’s free and easy to join CorrectionsOne for immediate access to reader comments.

By Anthony Gangi

Officer Peter Williams is a diligent officer who comes to work on time and goes above and beyond in the performance of his duties.

Today, his post is in a close supervision unit where he has 108 inmates under his direct supervision. Nine of them are 15-minute close watches. The 15-minute close watches inmates are scattered throughout the unit.

Mount Olive maximum security prison warden, David Ballard, walks out of the secure area at the prison in Mount Olive, W. Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Mount Olive maximum security prison warden, David Ballard, walks out of the secure area at the prison in Mount Olive, W. Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Williams never complains about the amount of work he is given, but the addition of the close watches stretches him a little too much. He calls for his area supervisor and explains that his current assignment is overwhelming. He can't properly maintain vigilance on his whole unit if he has to constantly monitor nine close watch inmates every 15 minutes. He then asks for a second officer to assist him with the close watches so he can maintain proper vigilance of his unit as a whole.

The supervisor takes note of his concern but states he does not have enough manpower to support that request. That being said, if the officer states he cannot do his duties responsibly, the supervisor will be forced to pull him and find someone who can. So, Williams quickly changes the subject and, eventually, the supervisor heads out of the unit.

As the night progresses, another officer, Sean Connelly, stops by William's unit and quickly sees that Officer William's has a lot on his hands. He tells Williams he should be realistic in the logbook and make note of the exact times he does his tours (which realistically cannot be done every 15 minutes). Williams, with concern, states, "If I put the right time down, they will have me pulled for not doing my job effectively and discipline will follow." In agreement, Connelly states, "That's possible, but you still can't lie."

Due to budget cuts, these types of circumstances are happening every day where officers are being forced to choose the lesser of two evils. In this scenario here, what are the likely outcomes Officer Williams can face and what is the best advice to give him?

This article, originally published 10/09/2015, has been updated. 

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