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Buncombe sheriff makes changes in wake of inmate's escape from doctor's office

Sheriff Van Duncan said the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is changing its transportation policy after an inmate escaped during a doctor’s visit earlier this month. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Sheriff Van Duncan said the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is changing its transportation policy after an inmate escaped during a doctor’s visit earlier this month.

Michael Calloway was at a doctor’s appointment on Nov. 1 when he got loose, assaulted an officer and took off.

Callowa was found a day later in Biltmore Park wearing a Clemson sweatshirt, tennis shoes and drinking a Gatorade, though it’s still unclear from where those items came.

“We have no idea,” said Duncan. “I imagine, because he was near the Reuters, the Y, common sense would tell me, I have no other reason than that to believe, other than he saw an open vehicle or somebody's gym bag in the back of a pickup truck and was able to just access those things quickly. But we haven't had a report from anybody.”

After reviewing the events of what led to the manhunt, Duncan said policy was followed. But changes will be implemented. For one, Duncan said any inmate who poses a flight risk or has escaped in the past will require two deputies during a transport. He said Calloway only required one deputy because the previous escape on his record was far enough in the past.

“His escape had been a while back. He actually came out as a Level 1 when we took a look at it, which meant that a uniformed sworn officer would be escorting him to an outside the facility appointment," Duncan said.

The sheriff said the department averages 25 doctor transports a month, and, with limited resources, he said it will require more deputies for more safety.

Duncan said he would like to see four more sworn officers in the transportation group of the detention division, which would mean two more deputies a shift.

“There is a proposal right now that's going to commissioners to increase transportation staffing,” Duncan said.

Duncan said another change will be in the uniforms inmates wear for transports.

“When they go out, they'll go out in an inmate jumpsuit that will be very colorful, and folks will be able to spot for a distance," Duncan said. “No hot pink, no Joe Arpaio hot pink, but it will be very colorful and people will be able to see it from a distance. It will be identifiable.”

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