State prison guards who were promised safer working conditions following the Jan. 29 slaying of a corrections officer in Western Washington are still waiting.
At Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane, for example, self-defense pepper spray that experts recommend all officers carry while on duty remains locked up in an armory that only certain employees can open.
Other changes recommended by a panel whose report has been embraced by Gov. Chris Gregoire are still potentially months away from being implemented.
“We’re waiting to see if anything is going to come of this,” said Darren Kelly, president of the Washington Staff Assault Task Force and a corrections officer at Airway Heights. But he is skeptical the recommended changes will be made promptly enough. He added that the lack of staff and proper safety gear create ongoing workplace hazards.