More recently, last month, a federal observer appointed to oversee improvements at Rikers Island described Ms Townsend as “critical to the success of this reform effort moving forward,” praising her competence in pursuing disciplinary cases against officers who improperly use force, among other things. other.
But unions have become loathed by her for this particular work.
As the Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, Investigation and Trials, she was also responsible for reviewing some sick leave abuse allegations, including an incident on Columbus Day in which more than a dozen corrections officers at Queens Courthouse left in ambulances to avoid being deployed to Rikers Island.
She was also investigating an incident in August in which dozens of transportation officers alleged that more than 40 of their buses were too malfunctioning to drive, causing detainees to miss trial dates and creating more chaos in the Rikers and in the court system.
Frustrated, the unions launched an online petition calling for Mrs. Townsend to be fired, and registered at least 290 signatures. A video released by the Prison Officers’ Syndicate over the summer attacked conditions in prisons and celebrated the resignation of the Commissioner of Prisons at the time, Mr. Chiraldi’s predecessor. End with “Who’s next?” Overlayed on portraits of five other administrators, including Mrs. Townsend.
Townsend said Mr. Molina asked her in December if she could dispose of 2,000 disciplinary cases, at a meeting first reported by the New York Daily News.
They agreed to meet again in January, on Mr. Molina’s first Monday on the job. She was fired that day, and HR told her that “the commissioner is going in a different direction.” She said she was escorted outside the department’s headquarters in Queens.
Ms. Townsend’s dismissal is not the first time that corrections officials have fired a senior circuit investigator who had made prison unions enemies of prison unions. Under de Blasio, in 2014, the Department of Corrections forced the resignation of another official who had held a similar position to Mrs. Townsend, Florence Finkel.