A New York City correction officer has been arrested for smuggling a razor blade into a Rikers Island jail and slipping it to a detainee, the city Department of Investigation announced Friday.
Travis Simms, 33, was caught by an assistant deputy warden handing the blade to detainee Johnathan Sanchez, 31, in the George R. Vierno Center on Rikers, investigators said.
The incident came as the situation on Rikers has reached crisis conditions, with 12 inmates dying while in city custody so far this year.
Simms was walking down a corridor in the Vierno Center on Wednesday when he handed the blade to Sanchez, according to the Investigation department.
Assistant Deputy Warden Denise Phillips spotted the exchange and ordered a search of Sanchez. The razor was found in a pen cap in the detainee’s hand.
“Officers providing weapons to people in custody is unconscionable, illegal and dangerous, and it was one of our own assistant deputy wardens who spotted this crime taking place and took swift action,” said Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.
Simms has been a correction officer since 2016 and made $89,346 in 2020. His base salary was $57,587.
“I commend the assistant deputy warden and her team for doing their job and doing it well in an environment made tougher by correction officers who choose to fuel the violence by trafficking in contraband,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said.
Simms and Sanchez were charged with promoting prison contraband. Simms faces up to seven years in prison. He was arraigned Thursday and released on his own recognizance.
Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio announced the NYPD would partner with DOC to relieve overburdened corrections officers. But guards and reform advocates criticized the move as too little, too late.