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Washington DOC Guard Sanctioned For Unnecessary Force

Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) guard Alonzo Belen appealed a six month salary reduction for procedural and safety violations as well as use of inappropriate force. The reduction was affirmed.

Belen was employed as a guard at the Washington Corrections Center (WCC) in 1992. In 1995, while training an intern and conducting in house prison moves, Belen screamed profanity at a prisoner. He then told his trainee to return to the control booth, went back to the tier and manhandled the prisoner to the ground claiming that the prisoner had threatened to kill him. The trainee watched the booth video and claimed that it did not happen that way. Belen's written report was inconsistent with the video footage. A report and subsequent hearing determined that he was unprofessional, exceeded his authority, failed to report a potentially serious risk of safety and security, used unnecessary force and utilized poor judgment. Considering his past history of infractions, he was assessed a six month reduction in pay in 1996 for his actions. He appealed, arguing that the trainee was not experienced and did not understand what was happening, that he sent her to the booth because she gave her phone number to a prisoner and that the superintendent assessing the sanctions conspired to have him fired.

The Washington State Personnel Appeals Board held that allegations were proven and that Belen violated procedural policies "in a potentially volatile situation" and further endangered himself and others when reacting inappropriately to a "non emergent situation." See: Belen v. Department of Corrections, Wash. Personnel Appeals Board, Case No. RED 96 0016 (June 2, 1998).

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