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National Correctional Officers Week recognized May 4-10

By Joe Henry / Hubbard County interim jail administrator

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5187 creating “National Correctional Officers Week.” The first full week in May has since been recognized as National Correctional Officers Week to honor the work of correctional officers and correctional personnel nationwide.

Most people can’t imagine what it is we as Correctional Officers do from the work environment that we perform our assigned duties in, or the people we come into contact with on a daily basis.

A correctional facility can be one of the most stressful places to work imaginable. Every day we go to work in a place where society has decided to lock up the worst of the worst. Correctional facilities are dangerous and disturbing places. The Bureau Of Labor Statistics states that Correctional Officers have one of the highest rates of non-fatal, on-the-job injuries.

Why do we get up every day and willingly come to work in a place like this? I’ve asked myself this many times over the years and have not come to any definitive conclusion. It’s a challenging career and not everyone can handle the work we do. Every day we face the threat of violence with verbal and physical assault. We must be prepared to deal with human waste and infectious bodily fluids. I’ve seen new hires confronted with what we face every day and leave after one day on the job.

For a little more perspective on the dangers we face everyday visit the Officer Down Memorial Page at where just two months ago Correctional Officer Amanda Baker of the Scotts Bluff Department of Corrections was killed in the line of duty.

I’ve questioned my own sanity in continuing to do this job. Ultimately I know I’m doing something important and performing a vital service to my community. I’m proud to wear the uniform and serve the people of Hubbard County.

I ask you to think about these things over the course of this week and if you come into contact with someone who works in a correctional facility, maybe tell them that you appreciate what they do. To my fellow correctional officers, believe me when I say that I appreciate what you do. Also know that when things go bad I have your back as I know you have mine.