Why does the local media in Westchester insist on making Correction Officers the scapegoat for the lack of accountability of municipalities and local governmental officials? Correction Officers sacrifice their lives every day to maintain safety and security in our communities. Is the local media suggesting that crime will go down because municipalities prevent law enforcement officers from voluntarily working overtime?
It is the opinion of an officer who has served 27 years as a Correction Officers, these tactics of our media is far from informational and does a tremendous disservice to the law enforcement officer and the community they proudly serve.
This article is not a discussion on the many controversial issues promoted through the press. What this article is in support of the Correction Officers that follow the rules everyday while also the collateral damage from failed policies, failed justice reforms, the closing of mental health institutions and political appointees.
Why has the media failed to report on the everyday dangers of a Correction Officer? These same Correction Officers give an unseen sacrifice of their lives every day to maintain safety and security in our community by maintaining care custody and control of what are society’s worse.
Political rhetoric has created an ill-informed outcry by the public against law enforcement professionals who work being the concrete walls of a Correctional Facility. It is no wonder the usual response from politicians is to cut, cut, and cut. Instead of cutting the fat at the top, with mostly political appointed positions they usually focus on rank and file law enforcement officer.
The Westchester County Correction Officers benefits and salaries have declined in that last seven years despite the growth in the nation’s economy. In most cases, the officer can’t even afford to purchase a house in the county that he/she patrols and risk their lives for the safety of the community.
Many politicians in Westchester have used the tax save game rhetoric in reducing services by cutting specialized units and funding for equipment is unacceptable. Unfortunately, the bottom line is more important than the lives of taxpayers and the safety of the men and women who place their lives on the line for eight to sometimes sixteen hours a day.
Unfortunately, crime does not occur during typical working hours like 9-5 or 10-6. In this post 9-11 era, our country has become more of a military state. Safety and security are the primary concern. Law enforcement professionals in Westchester County Corrections have responded to these concerns by increasing working hours, adapting to new federal policy and procedures and have sacrificed time with loved ones and family members to attempt to make our communities safer.
Crime has no schedule. At times, overtime is voluntary, and we do it out of a sense of duty and sacrifice time with our families to keep our communities safe. Other times, overtime is mandatory due to the massive budget cuts but officers are made the bad guys because our salaries are made public like we did something wrong for doing the job we’ve sworn to do.
Contrary to popular belief a Correction Officer is securely locked in a housing areas alone without any weapons. The Correction Officer carry out their sworn duties and responsibilities with dedication and valor. On a daily basis, Correction Officers face particular traumatic experiences, such as a suicide or suicide attempts, homicide, gang wars, a close personal brush with death, the death or serious injury of a partner. These sworn duties and responsibilities include keeping the penitentiaries and jails safe and secure with only one officer alone to a housing area that holds from 40 -60 inmates.
Every work day a Correction Officer can be exposed to HIV, TB, saliva, urine, feces, blood, vomit, semen, Staphylococcus infections and others such as MRSA, H1N1, and Hepatitis then become a Correction Officer. Even with Health Safety precautions, there is a time that an officer can be exposed to these dangerous diseases that can put a danger to their family and the community that they live. With all these risks, they still dawn the uniform of Justice, go to work, and stay the extra hours when needed to keep our jails safe for the citizens we serve.
- Correctional Officers (CO) have the second highest mortality rate of any occupation.
- 33.5% of all assaults in prisons and jails are committed by inmates against staff.
- A CO’s 58th birthday, on average, is their last.
- A CO will be seriously assaulted at least twice in a 20 year career.
- On average a CO will live only 18 months after retirement.
- CO’s have a 39% higher suicide rate than any other occupation,
- And have a higher divorce and substance abuse rates then the general population.
Correction Officers have worked diligently over the years to maintain the unseen law and order in the County. It is the hard work of the Correctional Officers that have paved the way for the department to receive National Accreditation from the American Correctional Association. This means that the Norwood E. Jackson Correctional Facility Correction Officers operate at the highest standards in the nation.
It is incumbent of our local law enforcement unions to have better relationships with the communities that they serve. Our story must be told. The taxpayers should know what our job ultimately entails. We cannot continue to allow others to tell our story for political reasons. Sometimes we must step away from the political circles and be politically incorrect when speaking the truth about the safety of the law enforcement professionals we represent.
I like many members are tired of the same rhetoric or lack thereof from our union leaders. As a paid union member, I want the public to know the daily dangers we face. I also want the public to know that I’m not just a union member, I am a taxpayer, their neighbor, a member of the working and middle class in Westchester County and the job that I do keeps the community safe. Because of your failure or your refusal to “Educate” the public on what our job entails, hard-working correction oﬃcers and other union members are losing the benefit of positive public opinion.
If labor union presidents don’t step out of the box, and honestly address labor issues and hold elected oﬃcials accountable and Educate the public; they will have failed its members and the greater public and the working middle class. Therefore, there will be no need for a union if you work for Westchester County!