Pr. George's Fires Jail Chief

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 5, 2008

The director of corrections for Prince George's County was fired yesterday after four handguns were found to be missing from the county jail's armory, the latest in a series of security mishaps at the facility.

Alfred J. McMurray Sr., a 25-year veteran of the county Corrections Department, was relieved of his post two days after the guns -- 9mm Berettas, and their holsters -- could not be accounted for during a regular inventory at the Upper Marlboro facility, officials said.

Corrections officers and county police are investigating what happened to the guns, said Vernon Herron, the county's director of public safety. All of the ammunition in the armory has been accounted for, he said.

Corrections officers have been searching for the guns since Monday. Yesterday morning, the jail was on lockdown, with all inmates restricted to their cells or bunks, while officers looked for the guns, officials said.

Officers also searched county vehicles in the jail parking lot, said a law enforcement source who asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

Every officer -- including ranking officials -- who had access to the armory will be questioned, Herron said. "No one is above suspicion," Herron said.

Officers who go into the armory are supposed to sign themselves in and out, and sign for weapons, officials said. There is no video surveillance camera monitoring who goes in and out of the armory, Herron said. Officials plan to purchase and install such equipment, he said.

"We can't afford to have these kinds of breaches, because when we do, people get hurt," Herron said. "We have to have the right people in place to make sure our citizens and our employees are safe."

Through a department spokeswoman, McMurray, 60, declined to comment. A man who answered the phone at McMurray's home hung up when a Post reporter identified himself.

The missing guns were not the only reason for McMurray's dismissal, Herron said. He noted other incidents in recent months that could have compromised security at the jail.

In late February and early March, two inmates were found with handcuff keys. Internal investigations have failed to determine how the keys got into the jail, officials said.

In mid-March, corrections officer Pierre L. Sailsman was suspended and charged with bringing cellphones to inmates who were members of the Bloods street gang. Sailsman, 22, is also a suspected Blood, according to police charging documents. The charges against him have been dropped, but the criminal investigation continues, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office said.

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