By Noah Cohen
HACKENSACK, N.J. — Two officers were hurt in a melee with federal immigration detainees at the Bergen County Jail, a county sheriff’s office spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The confrontation occurred Monday after detainees were spotted passing contraband between cells, according to Bergen County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Keisha McLean, who said a search revealed banned items, including an “incendiary device.”
“Detainees were given lawful orders by officers to disperse, at which point the group corralled around officers and refused to lock in,” McLean said in an email. “For the safety of the officers, assistance was requested, a facility lockdown was ordered to provide adequate response to regain order.”
Officers deployed oleoresin capsicum, commonly called pepper spray, the spokeswoman said. Two detainees were directly exposed to the spray and received medical care. Five of the detainees were placed in a disciplinary lockdown, she said.
“Two officers were injured as they attempted to restore order,” McLean said. “The detainees involved in the melee were institutionally charged with rioting, refusing orders, and possession of unauthorized items.”
Officials did not release the names of the detainees who were facing charges. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman referred questions to jail officials.
News of the incident was first reported by WNYC’s Matt Katz. Authorities did not immediately release more details.
Controversy has swirled over the Bergen County Jail’s contract to house immigration detainees as opponents call for the facility to cut ties with ICE. Essex County recently announced it would end its contract with ICE after inking a deal to house inmates from Union County.
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