Attacks on the Rise Due to Personnel Cuts

by | Jun 9, 2014 | Press

Manhattan Criminal Court

Manhattan Criminal Court Photo: Christopher Sadowski

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More than 12 city court officers have suffered line-of-duty injuries in the two past months — and judges and jurors could be next, union officials warn.

A severe staffing shortage of court officers is causing the chaos, said Patrick Cullen, head of the 1,200-member New York State Court Officers Association.

“People need to know it’s not as safe as it used to be when they go to jury duty,” Cullen told The Post, noting that there are 22 percent fewer officers in the courts than in 2010.

On May 15, Michael Bryant, on trial for robbery, bucked at returning to a holding area after a Manhattan judge adjourned his case.

“I’m not going back! I’ll fight you all!” Bryant said, according to the incident report.

When a court officer tried to move Bryant, he lashed out, injuring three guards, the report said.

Early last month, a 50-year-old female court guard was punched in the face by an unhinged inmate in The Bronx. She came to work the next day sporting a golf-ball-sized shiner.

While criminal courtrooms used to have three officers and a sergeant present at all times, now it’s typically two officers and a sergeant, sources said.

The scarcity of staff is especially glaring at the Criminal Court at 100 Centre St. in Manhattan.

In place of a desk where an officer was stationed two years ago outside the unlocked office of Supervising Judge Tamiko Amaker sits a soda machine.

After The Post revealed in an exclusive article in March that a budget crunch was jeopardizing the safety of the state court system, top judges promised to address Cullen’s concerns, but he said he is still waiting for answers.

David Bookstaver, spokesman for the court system, blasted Cullen, however, for “fabricating scenarios such as a spike in injuries.”

“It’s just irresponsible,” Bookstaver said.

He said there have been 56 line-of-duty injuries in the city’s courthouses so far this year. The totals for previous years were 100 in 2013, 123 in 2012 and 99 in 2011.