Troopergate: Gov. Ted Strickland Lied About Not Wanting Inmate Safety Protocols Reformed
I remember posting this exciting video from Marc Kovac in February, but now that I’m slowly reading through the large pile of testimony, I think this has new significance:
Here is the relevent transcript (starts at about the 2:00 mark):
Paul Aker: At that point, did the correctional institute at Pickaway say that they were concerned about safety, and perhaps you directed that nothing should change?
Gov. Strickland: uh, Let me tell you that no one from the correctional institute has ever indicated to me any concern about safety. And, if they indicated that to you I’m just curious as to why they would indicate it to you but not to me.
Aker: Did you ever tell anyone not to change any protocols at the mansion regarding safety?
Strickland: Regarding safety? Uh, tell me what sort of safety protocols you’re talking about.
Aker: Well, after the gentlman fell through the window as I understand it, there was quite a meeting that went on between various leaders of safety and other leaders at the patrol and the DRC- and it came to your attention and you directed that- No, in fact the program should remain as it is.
Strickland: You’re talking about things that I have no knowledge of. You need to be more specific with me- When you say there were meetings, what was discussed at those meetings? In regards to safety, what do you mean by safety concerns?
Aker: I guess, specifically, did you ever tell anyone not to change any protocols?
Strickland: What protocols?
Aker: Not to change the program- to leave it just as it is.
Strickland: Listen, this program started under Gov. James Rhodes, and it has continued pretty much unchanged since the Rhodes administration. It’s a good program. It’s provides a great benefit to the state of Ohio and saves the state of Ohio significant sums of money. And, if you will bring me a specific protocol that I did or did not ask to be changed I will respond to you.
But on pages 23-24 of 66 of Major Robert Booker’s interview with the Inspector General’s office, it is quite clear that Ted Strickland found out about such a meeting, and while in transit to the State House had his driver return him to the Mansion to demand no changes are made, even after serious concerns about safety were raised:
Inspector General’s office: Regarding Lt. Mannion, throughout the time period he’s been the commander of the EPU, has he ever expressed concerns to you about an operational issues through the chain of command?
Booker: I think he might have I’m trying to remember. When we had this inmate injury [sic] himself back in 2008, we gathered together a meeting to discuss inmate supervision ’cause that was a concern. We have no one from DRC on grounds to supervise these inmates. It’s all left to the DAS employee, the residence manager. And what had occurred was this inmate had to be transported, we only had one Trooper on grounds. That Trooper could not abandon his post to transport this inmate. So it was left with Bexley P.D. So the concern that we had was okay, let’s get the people around the table. Let’s talk about these issues, about supervision; what we can do about it. So we called a meeting: S/Lt. Danny Springs who was at that time over Capital Operations which includes the Statehouse, EPU and the residence; myself, Sgt. Yolder-Ma— uh, huh.. I’m trying to think…
Booker: Yes. The Warden of– at Pickaway Correctional Institution, I believe is Al Lazarus. And there may have been others there. But we’re in the dining room at the Governor’s residence and we’re talking about this. We’re talking about this issue and what we can do for the security and what can we do in regards to protocols, notification; if we have someone injured, who gets the call, what do they do? What’s going on? Lt. Mannion was not a part of the meeting but he expressed concerns (inaudible) that same end. And he and the Governor departed the residence on the way to the Statehouse. While in transit, the Governor departed the residence on the way to the Statehouse. While in transit, the Governor asked questions about okay, “what’s this meeting about?” “Well, talking about the inmate program.” “Inmate program?” They turned around and came right back and the Governor talked to us about how important this inmate program was and it’s very, very important for the rehabilitation of the inmates, and he doesn’t want to see anything happen to this program. And, of course, he was not aware totally that we were talking about security and protocols. And he left and I met with him and I says, “Governor, we were talking about security issues in regards to supervision of inmates.” He said, “Well, I think the program should stay exactly the way it is.” That’s what he said. I sad, “Fine. Alright, no change. No change in the program.” I went back into the room and that’s what I told everyone there at that meeting that we’re going to keep it the way it is; that in regards to supervision the residence manager would still be responsible for the inmates.
Obviously Major Booker wouldn’t lie about such a meeting, as there are far too many people named as being part of the meeting and it’s easy to verify. So why wouldn’t Gov. Strickland remember such a dramatic turn-around on his way to the office to stop a meeting about the inmate program safety rules?
And, more importantly, why would it be so terrible to have increased safety when there are inmates involved? Clearly, contraband was being smuggled through the Governor’s mansion… but with their close proximity to alcohol, hammers, torches, razors, et cetera- Why would the Governor of Ohio focus so much attention on such a program? Just what is he hiding?