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Rikers Launches New Security Policies After Attacks on Staff

 A view of the entrance to the Rikers Island prison complex.
A view of the entrance to the Rikers Island prison complex.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NEW YORK — The city Corrections Department is launching new security policies to reduce violence against jail staffers at Rikers Island, officials at the agency said.

The move comes after a string of attacks on officers and civilian employees at the institution, the New York Post has reported.

Newly minted Commissioner Joseph Ponte has outlined several strategies including improving communication between health and DOC staff members about potentially dangerous patients and repositioning and adding security staff in certain parts of the jail, such as dental areas where staffers had previously been alone with inmates.

Ponte has also called for moving Rikers' psychiatric clinic to a large, newly renovated area with a more open layout and more prisoner holding pens, which should help cut down on staff and inmate interactions.

Other changes include having wardens give safety seminars for civilian staffers and addressing safety issues raised by medical personnel, such as requests for security mirrors, panic alarms and Plexiglas office barriers.

Ponte has ordered an examination of training and safety practices in city jails with union groups, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and others as well.

"The staff members who serve in our city's jails perform admirable work in difficult conditions, and we are committed to keeping these employees safe from harm's way," Ponte said in a statement.