Sheriff announces prison transport policy changes following killing of deputy

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Marion County sheriff in Indianapolis announced changes to a prisoner transport policy Wednesday following the killing of a sheriff’s deputy during an escape attempt.

Most significantly, Sheriff Kerry Forestal said all off-site medical transports will require two deputies, local news outlets reported.

Deputy John Durm was alone in transporting murder suspect Orlando Mitchell on July 10 when the inmate used the chain of his handcuffs to choke the officer while being returned to the Criminal Justice Center in Indianapolis following a hospital visit, authorities have said.

Mitchell, 34, has been charged with murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

“Staffing has probably got too complacent,” Forestal said. “Because we’re so short-staffed, people will make decisions that aren’t in the best interest."

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office currently is 150 deputies short of full staffing.

“Additional overtime is being used to accommodate the increase in staff required to complete" off-site medical transports, Forestal said.

Such off-site transports will be re-evaluated to see if they can be completed on-site, the sheriff said.

Also, among several other changes, murder suspects will now wear red clothing as a reminder of their potential danger, Forestal said.

The policies were put into effect July 10, the day of Durm's killing, he said. They were not announced until Wednesday.

The sheriff also announced two deputies have been fired and two have been demoted following a review of Durm's killing.

Immediately after the killing, Mitchell then found Durm’s handcuff key, unlocked himself and drove a transport van a short distance from the detention center before crashing into a wooden pole, authorities said. Other deputies then returned him to custody.