A review of security after two men escaped from a courthouse in Charlottetown has led to protocol changes and plans for more security cameras.
Details of that review were included in a memo to the province’s director of family law and court services and was provided to The Guardian by the Justice Department.
“The section is confident that, while it may be impossible to plan for all circumstances, the new procedures and protocols will ensure the sheriff’s (sic) are able to prevent further opportunities for escape,” the memo said.
On Jan. 30, Michael Edward Perry and Justin James Reynolds were in custody at the courthouse before escaping through a magnetically locked door while they were handcuffed and shackled.
Reynolds made it to a residence on Upper Hillsborough Street where the police arrested him, but Perry returned to the courthouse soon after on his own.
The memo said the court services manager undertook a review of the incident and operational policies after the escape.
The review included interviewing all staff who were on shift at the time and reviewing all relevant policies.
Through the review, the memo said, it was determined there were previously unidentified gaps in procedures that led to no one discovering a sheriff hadn’t engaged the locking mechanism on the cell door where Perry and Reynolds were being held.
An incident involving a member of the public who was “upset with” the chief sheriff, along with other staffing allocations at the same time meant the mistake wasn’t noticed as early as it normally would have been, the memo said.
Since the incident, procedures at the courthouse were updated to fix gaps, ensure staff can provide continuous monitoring and make sure locks are engaged.
The memo also said staff workstations were re-allocated to allow for improved monitoring when prisoners were in the cells.
A review of technology in court facilities led staff to order more security cameras, but the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic caused a delay in getting them installed, the memo said.
It also said a request has been made for more sheriff resources because there are more cases being heard in the P.E.I. Supreme Court due to an increase in the number of sitting judges.
A request was made to interview someone from the Justice Department about the review and changes, but a spokeswoman for the department said no one was available.