Local News

Sheriff: Inmate transfer escapes a rare occurrence

Posted November 6, 2015 6:38 p.m. EST
Updated November 6, 2015 6:41 p.m. EST

— The Department of Public Safety has transported 14,000 inmates to court appearances across the state this year. On Friday morning, two inmates escaped from a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office van, but the pair was recaptured after about 30 minutes of freedom.

Logan Long, 24, of Lincolnton, and Damarcus Dixon, 19, of Charlotte, broke free from their shackles and exited the van around 10 a.m. while traveling along Western Boulevard near Interstate 440. Long and Dixon were two of seven inmates onboard, according to the sheriff’s office.

“When the transfer van turned the corner, the doors were just opened,” said witness Brent Canady.

Authorities told WRAL News that the inmates were returning from an Oct. 29 court appearance in Lincoln County. Detention officers were bringing an inmate traveling in the van to Raleigh before dropping off Dixon and Long at Polk Correctional.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said his department uses several layers of safety measures: all transport vans are inspected before use, and all prisoners are stripped, searched and redressed.

“They put chains around the waist; they put on handcuffs and leg cuffs,” he said. “There's a black box you'll see that covers the handcuffs and hooks to the waist chain so it can't be tampered with. Then they're placed into a car or van with a cage in the back. Those doors are shut and the van doors are shut.”

Harrison said he tells the officers to not get complacent.

“Whatever we take, it’s inspected before anyone gets in,” Harrison said. “That transport officer knows. He goes through to see if anything is left or could be used for escape purposes.”

The escape on Friday was the first that Harrison can remember in his 13 years as sheriff. A spokesman for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said he could not recall an escape during his career either.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will conduct a top-to-bottom investigation to determine what happened.

“It doesn’t matter how short or how far, you’ve got to be prepared,” Harrison said. “The bottom line is the safety of the officer, the inmates and the general public.”