(THE NEWS/files)                                Corrections officers held a protest a year ago on 256th Street outside Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, against prison over-crowding.

(THE NEWS/files) Corrections officers held a protest a year ago on 256th Street outside Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, against prison over-crowding.

Four officers at Maple Ridge’s regional prison charged with assault

Case in Port Coquitlam court adjourned until February.

A case involving four correctional officers from a Maple Ridge prison who are facing charges of assault causing bodily harm has been delayed until next month.

Matthew Aaron Black, Luke James Poelzer, Ryan Thomas Saunders and Neil Jamieson Mackenzie Stirton face the same charge in connection with an incident at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre on 256th Street on Sept. 18, 2017.

They were scheduled Monday in Port Coquitlam provincial court to set a trial date. That’s since been adjourned until Feb. 11.

Dean Purdy, with the B.C. Government Employees Union, didn’t have much to say with the matter now before the courts.

“I will say that the officers’ spirits are high. That’s about it,” he said Monday.

“The job of a correctional officer is very difficult. The number of gang-affiliated inmates inside our jails, the fact that 50 per cent of the inmates have both substance abuse and mental health issues, it’s just getting more and more difficult for correctional officers to deal with the amount of violence that’s inside our jails.”

The incident also resulted in eight officers being fired and six disciplined by B.C. Corrections.

Those firings have been grieved by the BCGEU.

Purdy said in a December union notice the incident took place in September in a living unit after “an unprovoked, violent attack,” and that other officers responded and “secured the inmate.

“Four of our own are facing criminal charges after coming to the aid of a fellow correctional officer …” he said.

He noted that Ridge Meadows RCMP investigated, but made no recommendation at the time about charges for the officers.

However, last November, the Crown filed charges.

“Without prejudicing the case, we note that this situation could happen to any one of us working in corrections and sheriff services,” Purdy said.

“The union will vigorously defend our members, despite the lack of support from the employer. We are all on trial every day, so we must stand together and support our colleagues.”

Correctional officers protested their working conditions last February with an afternoon demonstration outside prison.

Purdy said then that Fraser Regional was built with a capacity for about 300 inmates, but now has more than 500.

An auditor’s general report in 2015 said that Fraser Regional racked up the highest number of safety and security incidents, nearly 1,200 a year, by 2012.

That’s about 50 per cent more than the next-most violent prisons in the B.C. Corrections system in Nanaimo and Prince George.

“While I can’t comment on the matters currently before the courts, I can say generally that B.C. Corrections is committed to ensuring the duties of all staff are carried out as required by policy and the law,” said Cindy Rose of B.C. Corrections.

“Correctional officers are held to high standards of conduct – and as peace officers, they receive extensive training in a variety of disciplines, including de-escalation and the use of force.

“Any time a serious incident takes place, an internal review is conducted to help mitigate any future occurrences.

“Because of strict privacy and confidentiality obligations, I cannot provide details of any personnel-related details. This includes both matters before the courts as well as internal reviews.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge artist Zoran Malinovski has a new online exhibition called What’s Happening. (Angie Malinovski/Special to The News)
Exhibition by Maple Ridge artist brings environment back to the forefront

Zoran Malinovski’s online exhibition called What’s Happening

Maureen Blamey is a seniors outreach social worker with the geriatrics team. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
New geriatrics team to help seniors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The Seniors Service Team was formed to improve the quality of life for pre-frail and frail, medically complex seniors

Baillie House long-term care is located at Ridge Meadows Hospital. (Google Maps)
Five people test positive for COVID-19 at Maple Ridge’s Baillie House

Long-term care facility is one month removed from its last outbreak

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows MLA Beare performs one of first official acts in new office

Order permitting use of additional communication tools in public sector during pandemic extended

Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)
Pitt Meadows city hall and residents oppose new CP Rail operation

Company announces plans for CP Logistics Park: Vancouver

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

Most Read