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article imageCall for Guards to be Armed Follows Nouri Escape

By Bob Gordon     Nov 26, 2009 in Crime
Fawad Nouri (pictured), 25, was last seen at Hamilton General Hospital around 11:20 a.m. on Tuesday. He was being watched by two jail guards when, officers say, two masked and armed men approached the escorts and made off with Nouri.
The Correctional Officers (CO) escorting the prisoners were armed with only impact batons and pepper spray. They are trained to accede to any and all demands if they are confronted by persons who are armed.
This most recent incident has led to calls for COs to be armed when they escort prisoners outside an institution. "Corrections officers need guns to protect themselves and the public," Tina Les, union president told a hastily convened press conference at the Barton Street jail yesterday.
Federal COs are armed when on escort duties and while in watch towers and certain other designated areas within their facilities. They do not carry guns in the cell areas of their prisons. Police lock up their guns before entering a jail or prison. There are no guns of any type in the cell areas of federal prisons but officers do carry them when escorting prisoners off-site. Provincial COs never carry weapons, even when on escort duty.
However, Ontario's Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci, argues that this one incident should not be blown out of proportion, nor should it provoke a panic reaction. The minister notes that there have only been six escapes while on escorted off-site trips in the last five years: A minuscule figure when one realizes that Ontario prisoners took 70,000 such escorted trips in 2008.
Security surveillance video of a person of interest at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre the m...
Security surveillance video of a person of interest at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre the morning that Fawad Nouri escaped during a hospital visit.
Hamilton Police Service
The question that remains is how did Nouri's accomplices know that he was going to be at the hospital on that date and at that time. Prisoners are given no advance notice of outside appointments precisely to prevent this type of incident.
"Somehow the persons who assisted in this escape either guessed or came across some information that caused them to believe that that inmate was going to be at the hospital today," police Superintendent Bill Stewart told the National Post.
Nouri was in jail for an alleged armed robbery at a Hamilton Tim Horton's that went wrong and resulted in a foot chase with Nouri alleged to have been wounded in an exchange of gunfire with Hamilton police officers.
The Toronto Star reports today that, "Nouri also has a history of run-ins with Toronto police. In 2003, he faced 25 charges after a string of armed robberies across the GTA. Their report quotes Constable Tony Vela, spokesman for Toronto Police, "He's prone to violence, he's armed and dangerous and there's a consistency of him fleeing from police. He doesn't comply with officer's demands. It's a delicate situation."
Police have expanded their search throughout the Golden Horseshoe and GTA. They continue to remind the public that the suspects are considered to be armed and dangerous.
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