GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Three Guilford County detention officers have been assaulted by inmates since November 24, according to the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.
The three separate attacks occurred inside the Greensboro detention center on South Edgeworth St.
“It’s a dangerous profession, and we do have these attacks every year,” said Major George Moore, the supervisor for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office Court Services Bureau. “We do have them every year by somebody who gets upset.”
Moore told FOX8 that in two of the cases, the detention officers were repeatedly hit in the head. The inmates behind the attacks were placed in isolation.
According to Moore, on Nov. 24, inmate Jeremy Stover walked around a general population area without wearing a mask. A female detention officer asked him to put one on, but Stover refused. Officer Catus was hit four times in the head. Stover has been in custody for 105 days. The officer has been with the sheriff’s office for 10 months.
The following day, Nov. 25, Moore said a federal inmate, Herbert Lowery, tried to connect his tablet for a video visit. The device wasn’t working, and Lowery became enraged.
Moore said he broke the tablet. That’s when four-year veteran Detention Officer Coward responded. He was punched nine times in the head. Lowery has been housed at the jail for 34 days.
“Things like this are going to happen especially when you’re dealing with people who have mental health issues,” Moore said. “Not saying both of these guys had mental health issues but a lot of them do in some form or another.
On Dec. 1, there was a third assault in the detention center. According to court documents, 51-year-old inmate Adriene Hairston-Jones was charged with assaulting Detention Officer D. Hamilton, who has been on the job for almost a year.
Hairston-Jones was scheduled to be in a courtroom Thursday but never showed up.
The judge announced she was too combative with the detention officer to come out of her cell.
“One would be too many,” said Eddie Caldwell, the Executive Vice President of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. “There are a lot of people in jail for a lot of offenses, but regardless that doesn’t entitle them to assault detention officers.”
Caldwell told FOX8 the attacks were unacceptable.
“The punishment for that inmate should run at the end of whatever other sentence the inmate has already received, it should not run concurrently, but should run at the end of it,” Caldwell said. “It’s an added punishment and it makes a clear statement to that inmate and others that they have no privilege and no right to assault detention officers.”
Hairston-Jones is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon.
“It’s scary, it’s very scary,” said Candy Kaminsky, wife of officer Sheldon Kaminsky. “Officer safety needs to be a top priority in this jail.”
The attacks come several months after 71-year-old detention officer Sheldon Kaminsky was hospitalized for 46 days after an unprovoked attack by 21-year-old inmate Elijah Evans.
“He’s never had as many injures as he’s had in this jail in three years,” Kaminsky said. “He’s been injured three separate times and this last time he very well could’ve died.”
Kaminsky has called for stricter rules and greater consequences for inmates who become violent, following the assault on her husband.
“They have a lot of rights and a lot of privileges and that’s when these things occur,” Kaminsky said. “It’s just very hard having to imagine another family having to go through what we have had to go through,”
Moore told FOX8 there are protocols in place when something like this happens in the facility.
“Our first instinct and our first duty is to maintain the facility and maintain the security of the facility, and that means getting the unruly inmate under control,” Moore said.
He said the staffing shortage did not play a role in the violence.
“That’s the environment where things like this are going to happen, especially when you’re dealing with people who have mental health issues,” Moore said.
The detention officers in these attacks were briefly hospitalized but are back at work.
“We’re always around, it’s as safe as it’s going to be,” Moore said. “I think it’s as safe as most places are.”
FOX8 reached out to surrounding sheriff’s offices:
The Rockingham Sheriff’s Office and Davidson County Sheriff’s Office said there have been no physical assaults on detention officers this year.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said there have been 12 assaults on detention officers this year. Four inmates were criminally charged and eight were handled with in-house discipline.
Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said there have been 13 incidents of assault from inmates spitting and throwing unidentified substances to more physical assaults.