Letter to the Editor

Remember Correctional officers

Monday, February 21, 2011

To the Editor:

Many organizations, such as law enforcement agencies (city, county and state) and fire departments (full-time and volunteer) are recognized for the job they do and their professionalism and volunteer work.

With many years of specialty training and placing their lives on the line to protect others, these people have become known as professionals.

Yet, there is another organization that seems to get overlooked and they are the correctional staff, which works in the county, state and federal prison system. These dedicated groups of people are also known as professionals.

No matter what the employee's job classification is, these people have chosen a career in the correctional field and place their lives on the line each day they enter their work place. Each new hire goes through approximately eight weeks of specialty training and goes through a six-month probationary period. Once permanent status has been earned, each year, staff is mandated to complete an additional 40 hours of specialty training. Correctional staff are trained to deal with many issues involving the offender, such as educational needs, physical and mental needs, disciplinary issues, to name a few.

I have been a correctional officer for more than 30 years and am proud to be called a correctional officer and a professional.

Some refer to us as guards because a guard is defined as one who supervises prisoners, but we are more than guards, we are correctional officers who work for a professional organization which provides us with the authority to care for the offenders that are incarcerated by following their policies and procedures.

The main responsibility of all correctional staff is to provide and maintain a safe and secure correctional environment for the protection of the public, staff and offenders. Correctional facilities operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter what the weather or the time of year. Many correctional staff go beyond their primary job and dedicate themselves to join the one of the seven emergency respond team (K-9, E-Squad, etc.). The correctional field has many staff with more than 20, 30 and even 40 years of service. Each year in May, the correctional field honors its own with the Employee Appreciation Week.

Each day, we are both verbally and physically (sometimes seriously) abused and we tolerate having body fluids or waste thrown at us, because it comes with our job.

At the end of each day, just like each law enforcement and fire department, we too, look forward to going home to our families safely and unharmed. Just as with any job or profession, some correctional staff does the wrong thing, and end up losing their job and possibly their freedom.

It takes a special person to be able to succeed in the correctional field.

In short, when you see a correctional officer or correctional staff, please acknowledge them as you would your law enforcement and fire department organizations.

Correctional Officer Charles R. McShanog, a

30-year professional