It’s now been nine days since Richard Matt and David Sweat pulled off their complex escape from a prison in upstate New York, and while we learn more details of how they did it with every day, we don’t seem to be any closer to catching them than we were on the first day. (People are still on edge near where I live because Sweat has a lot of contacts in the area.) The questions coming out today, as reported by the New York Post, deal with whether or not the Governor has actually hampered the efforts to bring them to justice. I’d heard some grumbling about this and other issues which have allegedly arisen locally, but now it seems that some of the law enforcement insiders have been talking directly to the press.
The massive manhunt for two escaped murderers from the Dannemora prison has been hampered by State Police secrecy, inter-agency rivalries, and the disrupting involvement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the first day of the breakout, law enforcement sources have told The Post.
Cuomo’s surprise arrival at a still-unfolding escape scene a week ago Saturday generated considerable national publicity for the governor, but distracted investigators at a time when the full facts of the escape were not yet known, the sources said.
“Cuomo actually disrupted the early search efforts when he arrived at the ‘command center’ on Saturday and refused to enter the room until everyone was removed except state employees,’’ said a longtime law enforcement figure who has regular contact with many involved in the search effort.
“Cuomo’s aides came in and threw out the US marshal, the sheriff [David Favro, like Cuomo a Democrat] and others who were there to help coordinate the search effort.
Some of these stories are more than a little disturbing. The claims are that not only did Cuomo barge in on the command center in the early hours, but had people on standby to make sure he could be up near the prison on a moment’s notice for the press conference if Matt and Sweat were to be captured. Far more alarming is a report that one group of State Police narrowly avoided a potentially lethal confrontation when a second group from a Correctional Services emergency response team emerged from the brush in the same section of woods they were working and startled them. Neither group had any shared information as to where the other forces were or what they were doing.
The other issue is that, in addition to the Correctional Services forces, the local police, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department, the state Environmental Conservation Department and the US Marshals Service are all involved in the search. But if reports are to be believed, the state troopers are being very close mouthed about sharing any information and want to make sure that they’re the ones to catch these guys.
I really hope the stories about the state troopers are false or at least exaggerated. That would be truly unfortunate. As to the Governor’s involvement, that doesn’t require much of a stretch of the imagination. The guy used very little of his campaign war chest and runs TV ads all the time – light years from any election – just to remind people how wonderful he is. He was on scene at the prison break in record time and all the networks carried footage of him crawling around the steam pipe tunnels where the prisoners got out. What was he doing in there? Does he have some secret background in civil engineering or mining that nobody knows about? Obviously he was turning it into a documentary about himself, and it’s not at all difficult to imagine him gumming up the works for the investigators.
In the meantime, we wait. And I’m keeping the doors locked.