Norman Seabrook to De Blasio: 'Correction Officers Are Not Second Class Citizens'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A dire warning has been issued from the head of the city correction union — fix the jails, Mr. Mayor, or people will die.

The charge followed an exclusive CBS2 exposé revealing a troubling report about unaddressed life safety hazards in and around city jails and prisons.

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“People will definitely die from either smoke inhalation and/or burns or trapped in,” New York City Correction Officer’s Benevolent Association president Norman Seabrook told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer on Friday.

Seabrook knows what goes on at city jails as well, if not better, than just about anyone. And he says a report obtained exclusively by CBS2 on the lack of fire alarms and fire supression systems at city jails may be just the tip of the iceberg.

“The newest facility that they built, the Rose M. Singer wing, the fire aparatus equipment is not working. If a fire alarm system went off right now in the housing area there would be no way of a sprinkler system dousing that fire,” Seabrook said.

Among the things found in a May 2015 report to a federal monitor:

* At the north infirmary on Rikers, numerous life safety issues not being addressed.

* At the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers, the recommendation that special smoke detection be provided in every cell was ignored.

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* At the Manhattan Detention Complex, a system for keeping smoke out of evacuation stairwells is inoperative.

About 30,000 correction officers, inmates and visitors could be in danger. Seabrook laid the blame for inaction on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s doorstep.

“The mayor has to get involved because the mayor is the person that’s ultimately responsible for the saftey and well being of the people of the City of New York and correction officers are not second class citizens to anyone,” Seabrook said.

Asked for a response, de Blasio spokesperson Monica Klein said the city has added $157 million to the budget of the Department of Correction — DOC — for fire life safety fixes.

“Meaningful reform takes time,” Klein said, “and DOC is working closely with the FDNY to remedy these long-standing concerns and further improve fire safety within the jails.”

“City Hall has to be responsible to insure that the commissioner of the agency and his underlings are doing what theyre suppposed to do,” Seabrook said.

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The report says that the department has dragged its feet so long that the fixes could take 11 years — until 2026 — to fix. Seabrook said he thinks it will take a decade longer, Kramer reported.