Mayor Of Ionia On Prison Break: “It Was A Terrifying Ordeal”

Posted at 11:01 PM, Feb 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-05 05:18:17-05

IONIA, Mich. (Feb. 4, 2014) — Ionia Mayor Dan Balice says that when he first learned of the Ionia prison break by Michael Elliot, fear set in immediately.

Balice took a moment to address the escape during a city council meeting on Tuesday.

Mayor Balice said he once worked inside a prison himself and learned the inmates locked up have one thing in common, time. He spoke of the problems FOX 17 has reported at area prisons regarding the notification of an escape by sirens or other means.

The mayor said he was assured by prison officials, as was FOX 17, that sirens did sound.  The mayor said some residents may be desensitized to the sirens because of how frequently they are sounded.

Social media, Facebook in particular, was an effective way of alerting the public, Balice said.  One council member said he learned of the escape from Facebook.

In response, the mayor encouraged the public to sign up for a ‘warning call’ from Ionia Central Dispatch so they can be sure to be notified in the event of a prison break.

The mayor also shared some insight about the escape itself.  He said Elliot knew where the blind spots were in the motion sensors and timed his escape so he would miss the on-duty patrol vehicle in the prison.

“I was scared,” the mayor said.  “Everybody in the community was scared.  And I don’t blame people for being scared.  And I don’t blame people for wanting accountability from the Department of Corrections.  We work well them but we need them to work well with us and the only thing I can say to the people is the department is owning this problem.  They are looking into it.  They are going to change things.”

Mayor Balice said he expects the prison director to speak directly to the city council in the near future and detail exactly what happened in the escape and answer any questions council members may have.