Union says it asked for stab-resistant vests months before attack at Nebraska prison

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – After a violent inmate attack, the Nebraska Fraternal Order of Police said it tried to save prison staff from such injuries months ago.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said three intoxicated inmates assaulted staff members with homemade weapons on Wednesday.

The five staff members who were attacked were taken to the hospital.

“It appears, in our opinion, to be a planned attack,” said Michael Chipman, president of Lodge #88 of the union.

Chipman said all of the staff members involved are a part of the union.

“One staff was stabbed more than five times,” he said. “A lot of the wounds were in the torso. There was one reported in the lower neck.”

Officials said the stabbings occurred in a high-security, maximum-custody unit at the Reception and Treatment Center.

Chipman said back in December, when inmates were being transferred from the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, the union had a discussion with Interim Corrections Director Diane Sabatka-Rine.

He said they told Sabatka-Rine that staff members needed to wear stab-resistant vests.

“She told us that she had a ‘philosophical difference’ and that she refused to give us those vests,” Chipman said. “It’s clear with all of the wounds we’ve seen, a lot of these wounds would not have happened if they were wearing these vests.”

He said part of the reasoning was that the vests “looked threatening” to the inmates.

Now, just six months later, he said he’s frustrated that officials didn’t listen.

“Anger doesn’t even get there,” Chipman said. “When we were talking to her in December, we said that someone can get killed from this decision.”

Sabatka-Rine is no longer the director of the corrections department.

Channel 8 contacted the department for a response, but it did not get back to us.

The department release a statement Wednesday after the attack.

“Violence toward staff members will not be tolerated,” the new director, Rob Jeffreys, said. “Those who choose to perpetrate these acts will be dealt with accordingly, which includes internal discipline, risk mitigation and the judicial system.”

Chipman said this level of danger for staff puts a strain on everyone.

“They have a family to go home to. All of their loved ones are worried,” he said. “It’s very difficult, and it makes it very traumatic.”

Categories: Nebraska News, News, Top Stories