Thursday, July 2, 2015

Corrections Officers, the Unsung Heroes of Law Enforcement by Karen Rock


This may be one of the hardest blogs for me to write because it hits so close to home. Literally. Recently, two prisoners escaped from a maximum security prison about five miles from my house. Even more importantly, my husband, a corrections officer, works in Dannemora at the Clinton Correctional Facility. It’s been disturbing to watch some of the more sensationalized broadcasts about this escape and the factors that led to it. Our wonderfully supportive community, knowing how difficult this coverage is to see, printed up and distributed wristbands that say, "Dannemora Strong" to remind us to keep our chins up.

I’ve had to endure hearing newscasters claiming that officers (please don’t call these trained professionals guards, Anderson Cooper) are all sleeping on the job, dealing heroin to inmates, conducting other illegal activities on the catwalks behind cells, and are befriending criminals for their own, personal gain. It’s demoralizing to watch my husband work double shift after double shift, coming home to eat, sleep and get back up to work, while every armchair “expert” and even ex-prisoners wax on about the wanton disregard for rules or professionalism at Clinton-some even calling it a "country club" for prisoners when, in fact, it's where the very worst offenders are sent because it's widely known as the toughest jail.


Greg is a trained officer with over twenty years of experience, who, like the vast majority of other law enforcement officers at the jail, takes great pride in his work and place of employment. The actions of a few (or a couple) of employees should not be reflective of the dedication and hard work these brave men and women do every day. I, for one, would not choose to spend my work day shut in with murderers, rapists, thieves and the like and I’m thankful to corrections officers for doing this job and doing it well.

While law enforcement officers are often beloved heroes in romance novels, we rarely, if ever, have a corrections officer featured. Why, I wonder? They are the unsung heroes, rarely seen, who are all that stands between us and hundreds of really horrible people.... gangs members and other criminals we wouldn't want to meet on the street, let alone on a cell block of over two hundred inmates overseen by you and only one other officer. Instead of running these professionals down, we should take this opportunity to understand how truly dangerous this job is and thank them for putting their lives on the line every day.
My husband has taken at least three trips to the ER after fights he’s had to break up in the jail- one time for a broken hand- another for a slash from an inmate with HIV- which necessitated a year of nail-biting tests to ensure he hadn’t contracted the disease (he didn’t)- and another for a fractured eye socket when he was punched. He’s also witnessed, and intervened, when a good friend got stabbed eleven times, confronted armed inmates alone at night, taken away weapons, drugs and other contraband when frisking, endured riots in the yard that involved shots fired and tear gas, and been locked in with the inmates for four days straight during an ice storm. Yet Greg never complains. It’s his job and he’s proud of it.
I wish the nation would be, too. 

34 comments:

  1. Very well said, Karen. There are so many we forget to say "thank you" to and this was a great way to bring it to our attention.

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    1. Thanks, Liz :-) I sometimes forget the danger he works in until I get a call from the ER or one of his friends tells me about a tough situation because Greg never talks about that stuff with me.

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  2. I'm glad you wrote this post, Karen. I agree 100%. Working in law enforcement, as a civilian, I see the daily risks officers take to protect their community. In my opinion, they are overworked and under paid. Yes, there are a few "bad eggs" but you find that in any profession. Thank you to your husband for his service.

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    1. Aw! Thank you, Jill, for your service as well :-)

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  3. Karen, they should find someone like you to interview on TV. I've watched some of this coverage and especially wondered why they dug up so many ex-inmates to interview and calling them "experts." It's laughable. Except for that so many people eat it up. Just glad its maybe over and you guys are safe.

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    1. We're all breathing a sigh of relief, Roz! As for the News coverage- it's frustrating and there is so much I would love to say, specific to this escape, but if I discussed real insider details, it'd get Greg fired- that's why there aren't any currently employed C.Os on the news- they are forbidden to talk and can't defend themselves -sigh*

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  4. Thank you Karen for reminding us of how very hard Corrections Officers work. I have to admit that I never really thought much about what they do, but you've enlightened me and I appreciate those who work hard to ensure our safety. Your husband is a brave man, and he's blessed to have you as his advocate.

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    1. That is so sweet of you to say, Laurie! I'll pass on the message to Greg- it will make him smile :)

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  5. God Bless you, Karen and your husband and all his co-workers. I think your blog should be on the front page of the New York Times. Almost always, the media sounds to me like a trailer for an action movie instead of conscientious journalism. I know that there are competent journalists and many of them are friends, but too many times, they are the one without a job these days. Sensationalism has been with us since the days of "yellow journalism" in the 1880's. It was appalling then is now.
    It took a lot of courage for you to write what you did and I commend you. I wish there was a way for your words to go viral. EVERYONE in this country (and others) need to read them.
    I agree with Roz, YOU need to interviewed on television at the very least.
    Men and women like your husband risk their lives and their health to keep us all safe. Where are their awards for valor? I'd like to give them all solid gold medals, if I could.
    I'm keeping you all in my prayers.

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    1. Thank you so much, Catherine! That blog was really hard to write because I've held in so much disappointment at the way corrections officers have been portrayed. Few know what this job is like and the cumulative effect it has on officer's physical and emotional health and hearing them cut down doesn't help. I appreciate your prayers my friend <3

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  6. Awesome post Karen. Thank your husband for his dedication. If not for men like him, we wouldn't feel safe in our homes.I have friends who are police officers and I see how committed they are to their jobs. Because of them we live in greatest country in the world!

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    1. Thank you, Tara! I feel the same way you do- so grateful to those who put their lives on the line to ensure America is a wonderful country for us to live in xo

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  7. Wow, Karen. Good work! Give Greg a big hug and a thank you from me. I knew you lived somewhere near there, but didn't realize your personal connection. Thank God everyone is now safe. Have to figure out how to send your post to the New York Times. Could one of our tech genius sisters do it? Greg's on my prayer list from here on out.

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    1. I loved your comment so much, Muriel, I'm glad I read it twice :-) thank you for adding Greg to your prayer list. I always say one when he leaves for work that he comes home safe.

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  8. Wow, Karen. Good work! Give Greg a big hug and a thank you from me. I knew you lived somewhere near there, but didn't realize your personal connection. Thank God everyone is now safe. Have to figure out how to send your post to the New York Times. Could one of our tech genius sisters do it? Greg's on my prayer list from here on out.

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    1. Sorry, again, for the doubling up. Think I figured out if you go back to make sure your reply was entered, it does it again.

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  9. Thank your husband and your family for their dedication and commitment.

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  10. Our news media has gone from yellow journalism to psychedelic journalism. I went to a conference in the beginning of June, and one of the speakers was from Ferguson. She said the same thing.
    Maybe Cooper Anderson will lose his job and need to find another… It might be the only way he discovers what truth is.

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    1. I'm with you on Anderson Cooper needing to stop going off the deep end or trying another career, Pam! Sheesh. It's supposed to be the news- factual, verified information, yet he's bringing on ex-cons from Clinton which means these are not small-time crooks. These are the worst of the worst criminals, yet Anderson talks to them and gives their outrageous comments so much credence- as if they wouldn't have any reason to lie about the officers that controlled them or just be liars by nature. Ugh!

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  11. Thank you for writing this. Whenever I see the sensationalism climbing on the news, I remember the few incidents to which I have some inside knowledge and how inaccurately they were portrayed. I find it highly annoying how quick some of these journalists are to blame everyone for the smallest imperfection, and how little responsibility they take for accuracy themselves. (And Anderson Cooper is one of the worst.) Give your hubby my sincere thanks for what he does.

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    1. Thanks so much, Beth! I'll pass on the message to Greg for sure :-) It really is amazing how these news casters care more about ratings than the truth...

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  12. Oh, wow, Karen. I had no idea you lived so close to that prison escape. Thank goodness those men were hunted down and the community is safe again. All because of some truly awesome work by law enforcement. I see two brave people here--Greg and you. Please thank him for all he does. That's a very tough job.

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    1. It really was shocking when Greg called me that morning and told me they were all locked in- there'd been an escape! We are so used to the prison being down the road, it's easy to forget the danger to the public if they get out. Luckily our rough terrain made it difficult for them to get far- not to mention that about every other house has a huge, barking dog on the porch to make intruders think carefully... The search efforts were amazing to watch and I was really proud of our community as we brought law enforcement food, water, ponchos as the search dragged on. I'm so impressed at their determination and dedication to stick with it. My cousin Steven, a trooper who also hunts these woods was part of the hunt and he missed his daughter's graduation... But he didn't complain and we're celebrating this weekend along with the fourth! I'll definitely thank Greg, Leugh xo

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  14. Too many typos in the post above. :-)
    News quit being real news with the O. J. Simpson trial, I'm afraid. So thankful those two men are no longer a threat. Unfortunately, Anderson Cooper is still at large. Thank your husband and those other correctional officers he works with for the outstanding job they do! They truly are unsung heroes.

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    1. LOL- Yes! Anderson Cooper is still at large ;) good one, Patricia. I appreciate your support for the officers and will pass it on to Greg! Reading all of your wonderful comments has cheered me up- that and steering clear of the news today...

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    2. Did you happen to see Lee Lofland's post today about Correction Officers? Very good. http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/20-reasons-corrections-officers-despise-escapes

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    3. I didn't see but will definitely check it out! Thanks, Patricia :)

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  15. The press has very little regard for facts sometimes. Thank you for your post and thanks to your husband for his service to his community! :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Dana! This wasn't at all what I planned to blog about, but it all just came out when I sat down to write- and I'm glad I did. It's very heartwarming to have so much support from my fellow authors and friends <3

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  16. A well written and important post, Karen! I had no idea what the nature of Greg's job was. Many thanks to him and to you as well for being such a strong wife and supporter. May you both always be safe. The news really is so frustrating...

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    1. Thanks so much, Rula :) Lately it's felt like they just want to shock and titillate people rather than give an accurate depiction of the facts. We're all really glad this is over and we can enjoy Independence Day with our usual camping trips and cookouts :)

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  17. Karen, such a heartfelt account of what experiences you and your husband endure. Best wishes for you both.

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