The city’s Department of Correction hired a telemarketing firm to ring up recent retirees and convince them to come back to work amid historically low staffing levels at Rikers Island, Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said Tuesday.
“We have a list [of retired officers] and we’re going down the list. Not robocalls. We hired telemarketer-type people, we’ve hired a firm to make the calls,” Schiraldi told reporters at a press conference at the beleagured jail.
“So we are actively reaching out to those people trying to get them back, offer them some incentives, buying their uniforms for example,” he continued.
“We are also actively recruiting for reinstatement of uniformed staff who left service in the department in good standing within the last four years. They will start training in October as well but will only require two weeks training.”
The freshly minted commissioner, who took the helm of the department earlier this summer, also said there are plans to hire 200 new officers, who’ll start a three- to four-month training program come October 1.
The DOC is trying to bulk up the ranks amid a staffing crunch that has forced correction officers and captains to work triple and quadruple shifts because scores of workers are calling in sick, going AWOL, quitting or retiring early as the inmate population continues to rise.
The workers have said they’re contending with “inhumane” conditions, the worst seen in the notorious jail’s history, and have trouble working the long shifts without enough breaks in between.
“Our 19-percent sick rate is more than six times higher than [the] NYPD sick rate of three percent and more than three times higher than the fire department’s sick rate,” Schiraldi griped to reporters.
He admitted that conditions at the jail have been difficult and the high percentage of violent offenders is part of the reason staff don’t want to come to work.
“If you looked at today’s population, about 4,000 of the 6,000 people here today are in for violent crimes,” Schiraldi said.
“That’s just one amongst many other factors that I think is making it a little scary for people to come to work. I’m not trying to trivialize the fact that these are really trying times.”
Still, the commissioner, who was appointed the new head of city jails in May, said “people who are required to come here need to step up and actually come here.”
“I can’t just say it’s OK not to come to work and say you’re sick when you’re not but I would never for one minute say there’s not a lot of reasons why people are concerned about coming in,” he said, adding that COs have brazenly posted vacation pictures on social media while out sick.
In response, the president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association Benny Boscio Jr. accused Schiraldi of “demonizing” officers.
“Commissioner Schiraldi is shamefully demonizing our officers at a time when inmate attacks against us are at an all time high and City Hall’s negligence has created the crisis we now face. The reality is that triple shifts are happening because in just one year, the inmate population has nearly doubled and Mayor de Blasio has refused to hire a single Correction Officer for nearly three years,” Boscio Jr. railed in a statement.
“The Commissioner and the Mayor need to take a B Post in a gang affiliated housing area, while being outnumbered 50-1 and work 25 hours plus without meals and bathroom breaks before lecturing us about our service to the city. This is a disgrace!”
Schiraldi’s press conference came hours after a Rikers inmate was found dead of an apparent drug overdose — the ninth inmate to die at the jail this year.
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/09/07/doc-hires-telemarketing-firm-to-get-retirees-to-return-to-work/ on .