New York Daily News

May 11, 2010


Alert cop finds flaw with handcuffs used in chain to transport several prisoners at once

The NYPD yanked several chains out of service after one alert cop figured out that prisoners can free themselves from the defective restraints, the Daily News has learned.

The shackles - pairs of handcuffs linked to a long chain - are used to transport several prisoners at a time.

One batch that has been in service for about six months had a larger link connecting the cuffs to the chain, enabling enterprising prisoners to bust out.

Chief of Department Joe Esposito ordered the chains pulled back so the link could be fixed.

Each prisoner is cuffed to the chain by one wrist, and generally by just a single cuff, leaving the other cuff empty.

"Therefore, the prisoner could open the unused cuff and slip it through the oblong link to detach himself from the daisy chain," according to an internal memo obtained by The News.

"We are pleased that the department is responding to replace defective equipment that was cited by this union," said Pat Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Peerless Handcuff Co., based in Springfield, Mass., said it was unaware of the issue and had not been contacted by the NYPD.

Detective Martin Speechley, an NYPD spokesman, said eight chains were pulled back and there were no prisoner escapes linked to the defect.

"It's [usually] not a problem if you don't have two prisoners for each set of cuffs," he said. "But it is with a link the size that was on there."

In January, a Staten Island prisoner's escape from a chain was captured by a television news crew, but Speechley said that did not involve any of the chains now being refitted.