Employees of the Oklahoma County jail will receive expanded annual training in monitoring inmates after the jail was cited for the suicide death of an inmate in February.
Jail inspectors with the state Health Department found in a post-incident inspection in April that Jeffrey Darling, 39, was given the opportunity to commit suicide after one of the facility's detention officers accepted a verbal check through a paper-covered cell window rather than require Darling to remove the paper.
Darling hanged himself from a light fixture in his cell using a bed sheet Feb. 14.
“(The detention officer) conducted the required hourly sight checks,” the department's report reads. “However, he did not look into (Darling's) cell to observe him visually when he found paper covering the window of the cell door.”
Oklahoma Administrative Code requires hourly visual sight checks be conducted and documented at all the state's lockup facilities.
According to the report, Darling told the officer he was using the bathroom, and the officer then moved on to conduct sight checks of the other inmates.
Mark Myers, spokesman for the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department, said the department revised its existing sight check policy in July to require all employees be trained annually on conducting proper sight checks. That training previously occurred only when a corrections officer was initially hired and trained, he said.
“We haven't really changed our policy. It's just we've expanded it to include annual in-service training regarding sight checks and making it more detailed in explaining what to do in a situation like that,” Myers said.
The corrective plan is expected to be approved Wednesday by the county's board of commissioners. It will then be submitted to the Health Department, Myers said.