Metro Law Enforcement to Review Inmate Transport Procedures After Iowa Deputy’s Death

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  It was a somber day at the Polk County Jail as all the deputies were wearing black bands over their badges.

After watching the news out of Council Bluffs, they know better than most that transporting inmates can be dangerous.

“Yesterday’s story was devastating for all law enforcement,” said Lt. Rich Blaylock of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. 

The death of Deputy Burbridge on Monday after he was shot by an escaped inmate was an unfortunate reminder for local law enforcement that any situation can quickly turn deadly. 

“It doesn’t matter your job assignment, it doesn’t matter your task, or where you are located. You’re at risk, and the risk is high because of our job, you just have to be aware of that,” said Lt. Blaylock.

The Polk County Jail is one of the busiest in the state, as it transports over 100 inmates per week. Lt. Blaylock has held many positions during his time with the jail, including transport. After watching what happened on Monday, he can’t help but think about close calls he’s had in the past. 

“Where you’ve had to react to an actions of prisoner, it just reminds you of the importance of your training and due diligence,” said Lt. Blaylock.

That is what officials did on Monday and what they will continue doing now and in the future. When a situation like the Council Bluffs shooting takes place, the command staff will contact all the officers to review safety procedures. 

“It’d be hard not to look at our structure, how we do things, just as a reminder of doing the due diligence and following the procedures. Just making sure everyone is safe,” said Lt. Blaylock.

Blaylock says most transports happen without any problems. 

To protect themselves and the inmates, there is usually a 1:1 ratio. If the inmate has a violent history, they will add another officer for protection. The biggest variable is always the human element, and as he continues talking with the department, Lt. Blaylock is preaching one item for personal safety. 

“Situational awareness. Make sure you are constantly aware of your surroundings."