Preliminary reports are indicating the Management Training Corporation [MTC] is responsible for their initial failure to manage and provide adequate resources at the Kingman prison complex according to reports being released by the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Secondary reports are indicating a secondary failure by their own Tactical Special Units [TSU] that was called upon to quell the first riot and is subsequently blamed for the second riot and additional harm and property inflicted and incurred during the July riots. There is much to be said why it went wrong.
When the TSU team responds, they are part of an operational plan that is managed by the Centralized Command Center of the DOC – no team functions independently or separately from the Command Center thus there is no misunderstanding who is in charge and what needs to be done or executed by which member or the emergency response teams participating.
This command center is comprised of senior management staff, including the Division Director of Offender Operations, and the Director of Prison himself – this is verified with the reports that Mr. Ryan was on-site and present in the command center.
When the TSU team was dispatched to control the Kingman riots, protests and violence, there is sufficient evidence surfacing there was an uncoordinated and shoddy response to this situation. Hence the reports alluded to violations of excessive force, free-speech violations, antagonizing the inmate population and many more infractions of good police work and principles of diffusing critical situations.
This can be contributed to one main factor – vague, inconsistent and arbitrary orders given by the command post to the various TSU commanders. Rather than deescalating the situation, these TSU members were without direct orders to do certain tasks that were revealed in the number of weapons found and retrieved after the second riot was under control. Blaming the TSU for such conduct or misconduct is irresponsible when they were left in hostile territory and not under the same safe environment of the shot-callers in the operational command center.
The command center did not lead sound and best practices for restoring a prison environment to avoid secondary conflicts and therefore allowed various triggers to exist to escalate the violence once more. This was not a failure by TSU commanders in place; this was a failure by command personnel in the Operational Command Center to direct specifically and target precise sweeps of areas to control behaviors and threats to staff and other inmates.
Not to mention a primary threat to the public as these TSU members were severely outnumbered and not capable for securing the perimeter without the assistance of other law enforcement agencies.
I can say this lack of direction from the command center by senior command staff to the TSU teams is not uncommon. I have experienced this myself in situations at the ASPC Eyman Complex when TSU was called to control and contain large racial groupings on the medium custody recreation fields and yards. This is not an anomaly to the DOC. It is a long standing problem with command center functions. This is a critical training issue and has never been fully addressed or corrected.
Hence it comes down to the lack of communication, lack of commitment to train frequently for such disturbances and a lack of trust between the command center officials and the TSU team members left without any direction or support to do their jobs. Without a unified command, the disturbance spreads or creates dynamics that causes a loss of control of the prison environment.
The problem delves deeper into the phenomena at hand. This impacts basic security procedures e.g. searches, escorts, containment, restraining, deploying chemical agents and the use of K9 dogs. There are best practices for such operational needs and objectives – there were not carried out right and arbitrarily left up to the TSU commanders without leadership from the command center.
There was no unified command – there was no cohesiveness in the operation. Evidence of such deficiencies were the documented time lines and delays in serious and essential functions to isolate, contain, and control the inmates for count purposes and verification of any one missing or injured in the activities.
If this report were to be truthfully and accurately submitted, the blame [if that is the purpose of these reports] would fall on the Senior Staff in the Joint Operations Command Center for failing to provide leadership and joint, unified consistent orders and directions according to a riot plan.
This critical incident revealed and reflected serious flaws in their own policies and procedures by essentially tossing aside a good plan to run the operation without any structured responsible and legal basis of an pre-approved department established emergency response plan by either MTC and the DOC or both, which in this case, applies and should be addressed immediately.