Below is a section of my speech, and a personal message I would give to family, dignitaries and graduates at every Corrections Officers Academy Class graduation. I share and remind what being a Corrections Officer is truly all about.
“If they didn’t before, they now know that the title “Corrections Officer” has a much deeper meaning. They are not Guards, they are not jailers. And they are not JUST Corrections Officers. THEY ARE Corrections Officers, and they carry that title proudly. We see titles like guard and jailer far too often in the headlines of articles, tv shows and movies that have no idea what our career actually entails. The profession has evolved, our roles have changed, and the criminal justice realm would not be complete without these men and woman of courage and wisdom. We are the final step of the criminal justice process. Entrusted by the law to uphold the law behind the wall. People too often label corrections as a stepping stone job TO law enforcement, or a place for washed out cops to fall. When in fact it is a profession that many would say “I could never do what you do” A profession that requires a certain and unique character as Plato referred to as Guardians in the Republic. These CO’s are the Guardians of this day and age. People of talent, knowledge, skill, courage and wisdom. Each unique in their own way. So many hats and so many roles that if you were to call them a guard, you are actually limiting them from all of what they do. They are the first responders. They are at times the only medical and mph staff at their facility. And with 64% of our jail population being mentally ill, this can be very challenging. They are chaplains, counselors, role models, enforcers, diplomats, disciplinarians, master communicators, managers with the ability to manage relationships, and a pod of 70 inmates without out the reliance of a firearm. At a moment’s notice these are WARRIORS, trained to win every fight. Having the skill and ability, to apply force through purpose, in a way that is legal, safe and profession. Warriors, and guard, are only a role of a much larger title. And that title is Guardian. Defenders, Protectors and Keepers. It’s not soft and it sure as heck isn’t easy. It’s noble. And its courageous. A safer, smarter, and much more effective way of law enforcement that gets results and makes operations far more efficient. An unconditional service to our communities and families. While we watch over the evil and damaging members of society, the broken and all those who have been cast out of society, we are guarding the public and keeping society safe, while at the same time protecting those same individuals’ rights and protecting them from one another. It’s not our job to punish. That’s for the courts to decide. However, it is our DUTY to protect. It’s our duty to hold those accountable for the crimes they have committed, with hope to correct negative behavior through positive influence, so that these same individuals can re-enter society as positive and productive citizens. We are literally the beginning of re-entry. That process starts with us. It would be naïve to think this is realistic for every person that comes through our facilities, and ignore the evil that is actively present each day we work our post. But through all of that, even if THEY can reach 1 person out of 100 and make a difference. That’s a job well done.”