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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"TASER Our Sons and Daughters at Work Day" - Florida-Style

May 5, 2009
By S. BRADY CALHOUN / News Herald

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Corrections has placed 10 employees on administrative leave after a survey of corrections institutions found several children had been tased while visiting South Florida facilities.

The incidents happened April 23 at the Indian River Correctional Institution in Vero Beach and the Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown. The children were visiting the facilities as part of "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" tours, state officials said.

"Each incident is isolated," said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the DOC. "Each incident is different."

An investigation into the incidents is ongoing, Plessinger added. Sgt. Walter Schmidt Jr., of Perry, was fired April 27 after state officials learned he had zapped children with an electrical immobilization device (EID) in Franklin County. Those children were also on an April 23 "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" tour.

Employees are trained on the EID devices and told when to use them and when not to, Plessinger said. The device is only to be used when an inmate presents a physical threat to an officer, she added.

An EID is different than a Taser because it can be used on subjects from a distance. The item is usually only carried by an officer while transporting inmates, officials said.

According to the DOC, the employees placed on leave from Martin Correctional Institution are: Thomas Skillings, correctional officer; Kory L. Rupp, secretary specialist; Annette Ennis, secretary specialist; Russell Bourgault, correctional officer lieutenant; and Randy Kartner, correctional officer.

According to the DOC, the employees placed on leave from Indian River Correctional Institution are: Seth Adams, correctional officer major; PJ Weisner, correctional officer lieutenant; Charmaine Davis, correctional officer sergeant; and Linda Rosado, correctional officer sergeant.

Steve Rich, a staff development training consultant for DOC's Region IV, also was placed on leave, according to the DOC.

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See the letter of dismissal sent to a Sgt. Schmidt on April 27th.

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