Vote of No Confidence in Warden Harper/Harper Administration

Vote of No Confidence in Warden Harper/Harper Administration

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VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL WARDEN ORLANDO HARPER
ALLEGHENY COUNTY PRISON EMPLOYEE INDEPENDENT UNION
 
The Officers at the Allegheny County Jail herby submit the following letter to the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board outlining several persistent problems that have come to exist over the last several months within the jail while under the leadership of Warden Orlando Harper and his administration team.  Our jail has suffered from lack of morale, lack of safety, lack of adequate staffing, and more importantly lack of communications, all characteristic imperative for a leader of a correctional institution to possess.
 
Under the current leadership of the Warden, we believe that not all stakeholders are informed when the Warden makes important decisions.  As union president, my officers are often blindsided by decisions made at the top that never make their way down to officers who run his building.  Many of the decisions that Warden Harper and his team make negatively impact officer, medical staff, and intake.  Overall, these decisions created a toxic work environment in this institution.  This letter  outlines a pattern of not only disregard, but contempt towards officer’s concerns to issues that impact our core duties of care, custody, and control.  The following are the most egregious examples of Warden Harper’s poor leadership brought by the ACPEIU. 
Communication
A.      Failing to assure adequate communication of critical information required to do our jobs
a.     Failure to notify Officers that COVID testing for inmates prior to departure of the facility for any reason (court/hospital or doctor visits) has ceased.
b.     Failure to provide instructor led training for new procedures that required documentation of inmate activities to comply with Federal mandates.
c.      Failure to provide a new misconduct form to match the new misconduct policy for inmate discipline.
B.     Collaboration
a.     Failure to communicate with the Union Board in writing on any issues including care, custody, and control issues.
b.     Failure to provide adequate information under Article V of our collective bargaining agreement (CBA) such as segregation log, meeting agenda items, and even shift roll calls upon request in writing or other.
c.      Failure to seek input from the Union Board and members when creating/changing policy to ensure it does not negatively impact the operations of the jail by Corrections Officers.
                                               i.     Changes to commissary pass
                                              ii.     Changes to mental health operations, applying across the board changes to units without securing the staff staffing levels and tools.
d.     Failure to collaborate with the union on Officer recruiting efforts for the jail workforce.
C.     Security
a.     Failure to report critical incidents as Warden of the facility to Officers for their own safety.
                                               i.     Warden Harper accosted by new releases while exiting work, and failing to report this to Officers for their safety as we pay to park daily in an unsecured, non-patrolled lot.  One of the individuals entered the Warden’s vehicle, creating a dangerous situation for his safety. 
                                              ii.     Failure to notify Officers working level 1 that the Control Panel for level 1 was malfunctioning and the body alarm systems was failing to work as designed.
                                             iii.     Failure to ensure staff/CRU responded to level 3 when the panels failed on 18FEB22, 7x3 shift.
                                             iv.     Failure to shut down the facility when it’s grossly understaffed and jobs are cut.  Critical jobs to include escorts and level hall Officers.
                                              v.     Failure to notify Officers of COVID positive inmates out at the hospital for hospital relief, resulting in unnecessary risk of exposure and subsequent quarantine.
                                             vi.     Failure to provide facility-wide shakedowns as required yearly by the state DOC.
                                           vii.     Failure to hold vendors accountable to staff positions, requiring unnecessary overtime for Officers in the lounge.
                                          viii.     Failure to provide adequate response to safety issues brought forth by the Union Safety Committee.
                                             ix.     Failure to adequately staff the jail by balancing out the employee schedule.
                                              x.     Failure to provide adequate training to Officers including defensive tactics and recreation log documentation on segregation units.
                                             xi.     Failure to follow own policies on safety to include placing probationary Officers on segregation units for regular and overtime shifts.
                                           xii.     Failure to provide control booth training to alleviate forced overtime in the control booth.
                                          xiii.     Failure to relocate the maximum security inmates back to level 6 when concerns were made that these inmates are manipulating their door locks to escape their cells.
D.    Vision
a.     Minimal effort if any to improve employee morale from the warden or his administration.
                                               i.     All discipline should be corrective not punitive per the Employee Handbook, yet all discipline is punitive.
b.     Poor guidance on how to comply with the 205 mandate for split rec, loss of restraint chair, and loss of OC chemical tools.
c.      Poor mitigation efforts during the COVID pandemic that resulted in widespread transmission of the disease in the facility.
d.     Failure to provide shared goals for management and the union to allow for consistency in the operations of the facility.
These are some of the examples that illustrate how Warden Harper and his administration failed to thoughtfully consider the impact acts of his decisions.  The Warden and his administration willingly disregard the negative impacts their decisions put on the union body and the jail as a whole.  The Warden and his administration fail to take any responsibility for the toxic and dangerous work environment Officers work in every day.  More importantly, Warden Harper and his administration frequently place the blame on Officers, who continue to practice care, custody, and control to the best of our abilities.  
Based on Warden Harper’s consistent failure and lack of effort to communicate effectively, collaborate in a meaningful way with the Union board and Officers in general, provide a safe work environment, and develop a positive vision for the facility, the Union has taken this vote of no confidence in not only the Warden, but his administration, and requests that the Warden resign or be removed from his position of Warden of the Allegheny County Jail.
Respectfully submitted,
Allegheny County Prison Employee Independent Union.
 
 
 

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