On Friday, October 26, Officer James Harvey filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, Commissioner Dean Williams, and PCU Supervisor Sherrie Daigle. Although it is filed in Officer Harvey’s name, as was necessary due to the nature of the complaint, this lawsuit affects all Correctional Officers. The complaint seeks an injunction to force the State/DOC to tell Officers when Management becomes aware of any threat made against the Officers.
On the morning of March 12, 2018, Institutional Management became aware of a planned attack on GCCC Officer James Harvey. The threat was passed on to Dean Williams and the PCU. Not only did Upper Management/PCU fail to act to prevent this assault, it actively prevented others from warning Officer Harvey or his Supervisors of the impending assault. Two days later, on March 14, 2018, Officer Harvey was assaulted while conducting his duties in the Delta Housing Unit. ACOA demanded an investigation into why Officer Harvey was not warned of the planned assault and who decided not to warn him. It became obvious that the DOC was not going to conduct an investigation, or the independent investigation ACOA asked for. Why not? That is because Upper Management and the PCU knew that any investigation would show they themselves were to blame.
Truly independent investigators would have determined why an Officer’s life was placed in such jeopardy. Additionally, the investigation should be open and transparent to prevent a similar situation from ever happening again. Independent investigators would investigate:
- Why was Officer Harvey not warned of the threat?
- Why was Officer Harvey not moved to a new post while the threat was being assessed?
- Why were other Officers and Managers ordered not to warn Officer Harvey of the impending assault?
- Why were extra steps taken to deceive Officers and Managers from warning Officer Harvey by falsely implying a warning had been given to his supervisor, when it had not? (None of the Officers who were ordered to stay quiet were interviewed by the Troopers or the PCU on this issue.)
- How can such a Management failure be prevented from ever happening again?
As you will read in the Complaint, even while being assaulted, Officer Harvey acted decisively and selflessly to protect an Officer trainee (who only had one week on the job) who was also in the housing unit, to ensure her safety along with his own.
Officer Harvey is not only trying to hold those individuals who allowed him to be assaulted accountable, he is also standing up for all Officers by trying to ensure that no one else will be unnecessarily and so callously placed in harm’s way. Above all else, this is about safety. Officers must have a firm conviction that the State will do what it can to ensure their safety. Yet, in this case, the DOC betrayed that trust and covered up an imminent and planned assault on an Officer, and then tried to hide it.
A constant theme of Commissioner Dean Williams’s Administration has been “transparency.” In reality, the double standard, in this area and others, is shocking. Anything dealing with him and his Management team is kept confidential; anything dealing with Correctional Officers is publicly exploited to aggrandize himself.
Thank you, Officer Harvey, for putting yourself at risk by standing up to ensure the safety of all Alaska Correctional Officers. Officer Harvey is not acting in his own self-interest. We do not need to tell you about the current Upper Management teams’ actions, including the Commissioner’s previous falsified report and altered videos, Officer Jimmie Weeks’s “criminal” interview and 133 days on the beach, (all discipline dropped and State admitted it conducted an unfair labor practice), and more recently Officer Kevin Nushart’s criminal charges (completely cleared of all criminal charges), as well as all the Officers in between. As is often the case, we need to recognize the many other Officers who have put their careers, and livelihoods, on the line to bring the details of their situations to light.