HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Dozens of Nassau County correction officers attended the arraignment of an inmate accused of attacking a prison guard last month to demand justice for those who put themselves in harm's way to keep the public safe.
Roger Bissoon, 40, allegedly attacked Correction Officer Daniel Holland on May 26, leaving the 20-year veteran bloodied and needing 10 stitches.
Holland said the attack came out of nowhere and that COs face challenges in addition to what the union describes as a shortage of officers.
"It's not safe, and you're tired and worked that many hours," Holland said. "It becomes even more unstable and unsafe."
The officers who showed up at court say it just isn't right that in each of the jail's two housing units, there's just one guard watching scores of inmates.
"A lot of people don't realize how the jail works," Holland said. "There's usually one officer with about 50 inmates in a dorm room, and you have very little to protect you. The hope is that, of course, there's going to be kind of a mutual respect while they're in the jail, but a lot of times it doesn't work out that way."
Bissoon reportedly has a long rap sheet for crimes including rape, assault and burglary.
"A rape in the first charge, sexual abuse, several weapons possession charges and a burglary charge," Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Brian Sullivan said. "He's a real peach."
County officials say they are still struggling to keep up with losses that peaked during the administration of former Executive Ed Mangano.
"I understand," current Executive Laura Curran said. "I understand that it's difficult right now, and there has been, because of attrition and a lack of hiring under the previous administration, not as many as we would like to have right now. And I'm aware of it. I take it incredibly seriously, and we're doing what we can with the state and with recruiting and with recruiting this big class recently to beef up the ranks."
Curran said the recent class had 43 officers, but that's not even keeping up with attrition.
Holland is continuing to recover from his injuries.
The correction officers' union is currently in contract negotiations with the county.
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Dozens of corrections officers rally at Long Island arraignment for inmate in guard assault