- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2020

The union representing corrections officers at the D.C. Jail unanimously voted “no confidence” in the jail’s leadership for “guaranteeing and accelerating the rampant spread of COVID-19” after 50 inmates came in contact with a positive case of the coronavirus.

The D.C. Department of Corrections Labor Committee of the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to DOC Director Quincy Booth Friday calling for the removal of Deputy Director Wanda Patten, Warden Lennard Johnson and Deputy Warden Kathleenjo Landerkin; for the Department of Corrections to provide better protective equipment and medical professionals trained in COVID-19 response at the jail; and for the District of Columbia to respond to their letter addressing their remaining concerns.

A U.S. marshal tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday. As a result, corrections officers Sgt. Joseph Alexander and Sgt. Donald Graham, who is the team leader for the jail’s emergency response team, were instructed to quarantine 50 inmates who came in contact with the marshal at the jail.

However, the two sergeants were uncomfortable executing the order to quarantine with the protective equipment they were provided — gloves and a face mask — according to an email sent from Ann-Kathryn So, a lawyer with Hannon Law Group who is representing the union, to city officials including Mr. Booth, Mr. Johnson and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue.

Both sergeants, one of whom had personal knowledge of the agency’s inventory, requested full body protection, but their request was refused, according to the email from Ms. So.

The officers performed the quarantine, despite their discomfort. Many of the inmates initially resisted, and one spit in the face of an officer who was wearing only a face mask, the email said.

DOC sent a letter to all staff that said 65 DOC residents deemed low-risk by D.C. Health were placed in quarantine after their visit to the D.C. Superior Court on March 13.

According to the letter, DOC does not believe the 65 individuals had physical contact with the marshal and none of them are showing symptoms consistent with the coronavirus.

However, one resident was tested for the novel coronavirus and it came back negative. To date, there are no confirmed cases in any of the DOC facilities.

DOC did not respond to requests for comment but Friday afternoon the mayor weighed in with a brief statement.

“We are in unprecedented times,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who said she wasn’t aware of the situation at the DOC. “We are calling on all our workers and union leaders to communicate any questions they have to the emergency operations center and that’s where they can get the response they need.”

• Sophie Kaplan can be reached at skaplan@washingtontimes.com.

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