Armstrong County Sheriff’s Office Fires Employee, Punishes Another After Enabling Inmate Escape

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The Armstrong County Sheriff’s Office has terminated one female employee and disciplined another, male employee, for reportedly enabling an inmate to escape.

Allan Odell Rhone, 47, made his escape around 2:41 P.M. Monday, February 18, 2019. Rhone is still at large and was last seen in Amarillo, Texas.

According to the Critical Incident Investigation performed by Chief Deputy King, the terminated female employee was working as the Shift Dispatcher and Jailer at the time of the escape and had another new male employee training with her. The male employee, working under the direction of the terminated female employee, opened a cell door to give the inmate a mop bucket to clean his cell. He re-secured the door but later returned to retrieve the mop bucket and opened the cell door again. At that time the inmate forcibly struck the jailer with the mop bucket and escaped into a hallway. He was able to make his way out onto a recreation yard for safety after being struck. The inmate was contained in the jail hallway and could not escape to the downstairs of the jail due to a locked security door.

The terminated female employee then opened the secure jail floor door, that was keeping the inmate contained, and Rhone forced his way out into the Sheriff’s office Lobby area, assaulting her as she tried to restrain him. According to the Sheriff, it was the female employee’s error of opening the secure door that allowed the inmates to escape. If the door would not have been opened appropriate Law Enforcement response would have had time to respond to the area to re-secure the inmate within a cell using force if necessary.

The terminated female employee has been released from service for Violation of the Armstrong CountySheriff’s Office Standard Security Measures Policies which include: Hostage/ Barricaded Subject Policy, Failure to follow orders for overseeing her trainee and failing to follow Jail Door Opening Cell Protocols. The male employee is being disciplined for failing to follow Jail Door Opening Cell protocols and has received a written reprimand and been placed on Probation for one year.

The order for jeopardizing standard security measures is defined as an intentional or unintentional action that violates standard security measures designed to maintain custody and containment of inmates and to provide protection for inmates, staff, and citizens.

The Hostage/ Barricaded Subject Policy requires that all doors remain secure and not be opened when a Hostage or barricaded subject situation occurs.

Jail Door Opening Protocols in place always require a Deputy Sheriff or other Law Enforcement Entity to be present in the building when a Jailer opens any cell door.

The sheriff’s office said the Male employee could be fired for any future infractions. He has only been with the Sheriff’s Office for approximately 2 weeks and was under the supervision of the terminated female employee.

The Armstrong County Sheriff’s Office has recently been short staffed on Deputies causing them all to work long extended hours to protect the almost 1,000 square miles of the County with only 2 Deputies and the Sheriff on patrol. The past administration has also faced scrutiny from County officials who want to shut the Jail down in order to cut County Costs. Shutting the Jail down would cause Local Law Enforcement and Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers to have to transport inmates outside of County to other facilities which would leave the already taxed Deputy staff even more shorthanded.

The Sheriff’s Office wants the public to know that the Jail Facility is Secure and Safe. However, in this instance these employee errors caused the escape to occur. It should not be looked upon as an error of all the employees at the facility or the physical building structure of the jail.

The Armstrong County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to serving its community and hopes that the community can support us in this trying time as we move forward.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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