The first full week in May has been recognized as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week in order to honor the work of Correctional Officers and personnel throughout the nation. On May 5, 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first ever National Correctional Officer’s Week in order to recognize the public service performed by Correctional Officers and staff who fill a vital role in Public Safety, overseeing an ever changing and sometimes volatile detainee and inmate population.
In the words of President Reagan, “Correctional Officers have the difficult and often dangerous assignment of ensuring the custody, safety, and well-being of the inmates in our Nation’s prisons and jails…their positions are essential to the day-to-day operations of these institutions; without them, it would be impossible to achieve the foremost institutional goals of security and control.”
Correctional Officers are often viewed as “guards,” and “jailers,” working in positions within jails and prisons that are often misunderstood by those who don’t work in the correctional environment. While maintaining the safety and security of the correctional facility and ensuring public safety is of the utmost importance, Correctional Officers do much more. Correctional Officers, also known as, “CO’s,” to those they supervise, perform many different jobs, often conflicting in nature. Security and control, supervising offenders, and acting as a counselor and mediator are just a few of the tasks performed by Correctional Officer. Going from helping a detainee in crisis to intervening in a physical confrontation between detainees can happen within a matter of seconds, requiring the ability to think on one’s feet and the ability to change according to the circumstances. Correctional Officers wear a number of hats simultaneously.
Mediator, Counselor, Mentor, Teacher, Role Model, Re-Entry Professional, and First Responder are a few of the words that staff in the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center came up with to describe the work of Detention Deputies in Olmsted County. It is our responsibility to ensure that when a detainee comes into the Adult Detention Center, they leave a better person, helping to make our community safer for everyone. Detention Deputies consistently show commitment to the community they serve by modeling behavior for detainees under sometimes less than ideal circumstances. The best weapons that a Correctional Officer can have are not in the form of defensive spray and handcuffs, but rather the ability to talk and deescalate a situation, and to be fair, firm, and consistent in their treatment of everyone they deal with. “Professional,” is the word that comes to mind when referring to the modern-day Correctional Officer.
I believe that President Reagan said it the best when he stated, “The professionalism, dedication and courage exhibited by these officers throughout the performance of these demanding and often conflicting roles deserve our utmost respect. The important work of Correctional Officers often does not receive the recognition from the public it deserves. It is appropriate that we honor the many contributions and accomplishments of these men and women who are a vital component of the field of corrections.”
Deputy Dean Pike and Deputy Amy Purdy will be erecting a display in the Government Center in honor of National Correctional Officers and Employees Week. If you have a moment, take some time and stop by to honor those in the Correctional Profession that contribute so much to Public Safety.