Hoping For A
Authored By: Bradley Chapline
Idea Of A
Idea Of A
How naïve was I back in those days of the 1980's? I wanted a warm welcome at my arrival at the Southern Desert Correctional Center The reality was, no chance of that.
But, I had good reasons to want this. My first year in the Nevada prison system, at Jean, or, otherwise known as the Southern Nevada Correctional Center, was an absolute nightmare.
During an inmate attack on an officer, I definitely put my life on the line to rescue her. For, it is fact, no one else would. Yep, I did that one alone. I discovered in later years that this female officer was probably having an affair at the prison with the inmate who attacked her. Trust when I say, this didn't sit well with me.
And next at the Jean prison, we had an officer up in a gun post who decided to take his rifle from a secured cabinet and begin firing at the Flight For Life helicopter that was intending to land on the prison parking lot. And yes, all the proper notifications were given to all the officers on institutional gun posts.
For sure, careerwise, I was real skeptical of myself in making this choice to work for the State of Nevada prison system.
But, it wasn't over yet. An inmate, nicknamed "Kentucky", had an absurd amount of power over low ranking staff. His title was, "AWO's (Associate Warden of Operations) Clerk".
He was making huge sized inmate bed moves in an attempt to racially segregate prison housing units. When "Kentucky" entered my unit and delivered the paperwork, I refused the order. Although, the order was technically valid, because it was signed by the AWO. But, I didn't care. I was NOT following this order.
Many people over the years have asked why. Well, I worked for some years, while in the Marine Corps, transporting prisoners to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. I learned from those guards that housing inmates in racially segregated cell blocks was dangerous to both institutional security and officer safety.
My unit, that I worked at Jean was, racially speaking, well balanced.
When word got around the prison grapevine on what "Kentucky" was up to, tensions amongst the general population grew extremely fast. And wouldn't you know it, of course, my unit was at the center of it all.
One has to realize at the Jean prison, the officers control center was located in between the two inmate wings. There were no locks on our control center, and no locks on inmate cell doors.
So, there was no place for me to possibly secure myself from inmates during an uprising. The situation got worse, and worse, and worse. I had called the lieutenant's desk, the sergeant's desk, the associate warden of operation office, admin, and even the prison investigator's office. No one would assist me. I needed help to clear the situation that had built up in my unit. I had only received orders to enforce the institutional bed moves.
So, with no backup and or assistance, in essence, the crowd of 40-45 stark-raving mad inmates surrounding both exits of my control center, and hundreds more gathered right out front of my unit, made me their hostage.
I then called my shift sergeant back and told him, "Okay, I quit, I'm giving the unit keys to the inmates." I then hung up the phone.
Inside of two minutes, my sergeant, the institutional investigator, several senior officers, and a host of other officers arrived on scene. When they arrived, it was then they realized how dangerous the situation had become.
Moments later, an announcement came over the intercom, "Per the AWO, all bed moves are cancelled." The inmates cheered, and the self-perceived hostage situation was over.
However, my supervisors wanted me to resign. I refused. I threatened to go to the Assistant Director's Office in Las Vegas. For, we did know each other. So again, my supervisors backed off, and I was canned to night shift.
There, my shift commander, on graveyard informed me that he was placing me in a gun tower because he heard that I was scared of inmates. I was outraged!
I waited until our shift was over. I met up with the lieutenant on the highway driving back to Las Vegas. I motioned for him to pull over. He did. And this is where a fist fight broke out between the two of us. About five minutes later the shift sergeant pulled over, and broke the fight up. We both had multiple wounds and scars, clearly showing.
Days later the lieutenant and I were called into the warden's office. Neither one of us gave any information and or confirmation of our fight. I was then transferred to the Southern Desert Correctional Center (SDCC). Was I ever relieved to be going there.
At SDCC, I was first assigned to graveyard shift. For the first week or so it was nice. I was assigned to a tower, and once I had arrived at my post on the perimeter, no one came around until it was time for me to be relieved. I stayed awake, and alert all through each night.
But, this was the first time I ever heard of post checks not being conducted by supervisors. My two supervisors were so withdrawn, so disengaged from the troops, I never even knew what their names were.
No other officers even spoke to me on this shift. No calls during the night. It was like I didn't even exist. Really, I was okay with this.
But then, a week or so later I was transferred to day shift. And this was when the trouble began. Lt. Lane was my shift commander.
He said to me in the muster room, "I'm making you my S&E, meaning, the "Search And Escort" officer. I knew what that entailed, from Jean. I really wanted no part of that position.
For the most part, officers assigned to those positions were the shift commander's favorites. These S&E's, at least the ones I knew of from Jean were the lieutenant's snitch. So, I was not surprised when Lieutenant Lane told me to report to the sergeant's office where we would talk in private.
My instincts of him were good. At best, in the muster room, he gave me an uneasy feeling.
In Lieutenant Lane's office, behind closed doors, he told me he wanted me to go from unit to unit and then report back to him on what the officers were doing. I replied, "Lieutenant, I'm not your snitch. It is me versus the inmates, not me against my fellow officers."
I could immediately sense that Lieutenant Lane was not happy with me. He said, "You know, if you want to pass probation Officer Chapline, you need to play ball." I replied, "I've already passed probation, Lieutenant, and no, I'm not being your snitch. If you want to know what your officers are doing, go find out for yourself."
I was immediately relieved of my position of "S&E". Used as punishment, Lane ordered me to report to a perimeter tower.
For sometime short of the next two decades, when shift changes were posted, I just cringed whenever Lieutenant Lane was scheduled to be my new shift commander. I usually pleaded to be assigned to another shift, away from Lieutenant Lane.
Allegedly, many years later, before his scheduled full retirement date, Lane was given the option by upper management to retire early. Supposedly, it would be in his overall best interests. The day Lieutenant Lane retired from the NDOC was the happiest day I've ever had in my long and turbulent career with the Nevada prison system.