The Dangers of the Food Port in Corrections
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip is for all of my friends in corrections operations.
Whatever you call it, the food port presents risk to all corrections personnel.
Before I start this tip, I want to remind you that I have never done your job. But I still have visited a lot of your facilities, I’ve studied your tragedies, and I regularly talk to currently employed corrections personnel from around this great country. And I have learned that if you work in a custody facility you are very familiar with the dangers of the food port. You know, that rectangular opening in the cell door that you use to pass food, apply handcuffs, and sometimes communicate with inmates.
You might call it a “chow hole,” or a “bean hole” or something else. Whatever you call it, the food port presents risk to all corrections personnel. In fact, one veteran that I talked to likes to refer to the food port as the “rectangle of death.”
The food port is opened from the outside by staff numerous times during the average day. And when it’s open, the food port offers inmates an opportunity to attack you while also providing the inmate with cover and protection.
A motivated inmate can inflict serious bodily injury just by catching your arm or wrist and pulling it through the opening. Did I mention that liquids, solids, and handcrafted weapons can be propelled through the opening? I’m talking about urine, blood, feces, and sharpened objects.
An inmate using an open food port can snatch keys, radios, handcuffs or other items. All of these things become weapons for the inmate to use against personnel, creating a situation that could have completely been easily avoided.
Some friendly reminders, and you know this, but keep practicing it. Always stand to the side of the open food port and never stand directly in front of it. Never stoop down and look or talk directly through an open food port.
Always watch the inmate’s hands during any food port exchange, especially while passing items to the inmate. NEVER reach your own hand or arm through the opening. Many corrections officers have suffered serious injuries by not heeding this advice.
A food port left open is an opportunity for an inmate to do substantial harm. Always close the food port and check it to make sure it is secure after each and every transaction.
Don’t be a victim of the “rectangle of death.”
That’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off.