LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - An inmate at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections escaped from the facility and remains at large.
LMDC Assistant Director Steve Durham said Tuesday that Martinez “breached an exterior window” and was able to escape custody.
A photograph sent in to WAVE 3 News showed a hole in a window several stories up, accompanied by what appears to be a firehose.
Martinez was originally taken into custody in February on several robbery charges.
LMDC officers are coordinating search efforts with law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77 spokesperson Tracy Dotson told WAVE 3 News the manner in which the escape occurred was shocking, but he said he believes he knows the reason why it occurred.
“This type of escape is pretty brazen and a rare occurrence," Dotson said. "(However) the staffing situation is such that unfortunately, a lot of times, it’s only a matter of time before something like this happens.”
Dotson said he believes there are not enough corrections officers currently on staff to keep the jail properly secured.
According to figures he provided to WAVE 3 News, since July 2019, LMDC has lost 77 officers, and has only replaced 42. Since June of this year, the contrast is even more stark. According to Dotson’s numbers, the department has lost 33 officers and hired zero. He said it puts a burden on the officers still on staff.
“You’re running areas at 50 percent staff capacity and you’re also working your existing staff members 60, 70, 80 hours a week," Dotson said. “We’re human beings. So, if you’re 60 hours into your week and it’s 3:00 in the morning, and the lights are out and you’re sitting at your post on the fifth floor, are you nodding off? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t blame you if you are.”
WAVE 3 News took those concerns to Durham, who said in a statement that “staffing was not a contributing factor. Mr. Dotson’s statement is an invalid excuse. I am not going to discuss all the details but I will tell you we identified some basic security deficiency. The internal investigation will detail the flaws but we will not wait for a final report to start correction. And the correction will not include adding more employees.”
Be it deficiency or depletion, Dotson said security needs to be sharper to keep the jail safe.
“As we’ve said many times before, believe it or not, people don’t want to be in jail," Dotson said. "So security needs to be hyper vigilant in these circumstances.”
LMDC is investigating how Martinez escaped.