WEST PALM BEACH — This Week Jails, and Prisons will celebrate National Correctional Officers and Employees week starting May 2, through May 81. This tradition goes back to 1984 when then President Ronald Regan proclaimed the first full week of May National Correctional Officers Week.
Most don’t realize that the many correctional officers who work in the profession, are joined by many civilian staff members who all work in concert with one another; their overarching goal is providing care, custody, and control. Prisons and Jails are to some extent has embraced many tectological systems to modernize their operations, however to the public they are still mysterious places that are located within the community. Because of the lack of access and the sheer nature of security that comes with it, the job of correctional officer remains out of sight, and mostly out of mind. It remains a thankless task which is thrusted into the lime light when there is some negative or adverse occurrence. That was the impetus in President Regan’s Proclamation to honor correctional officers.
Jails and Prisons are microcosms of communities they need many people to operate efficiently; they come with their own banking system, cleaners or laundry system, kitchen, store or canteen, and hospital or infirmary that is staffed with a cadre of staff doctors and nurses who work around the clock. Each one of these are interdependent on the other with food services and medical in my estimation being the most quintessential; however, the jail can’t operate without each one conducting themselves systematically in a profound professional manner. That is how standards are maintained and inmates are given the care and provided stewardship guaranteed to them upon their admission.
This past year 2020-2021 jails and prisons have been on the forefront in their fight to maintain operations in the midst of a global pandemic. When the first outbreaks of the coronavirus COVID-19 was announced with several out breaks on cruise ships. It was apparent that this virus would take hold in congregant communities. Jails and prisons were essentially docked cruise ships. There has been so much infection within the confines of the jails and prisons and more than the average of deaths among inmates. Thankfully, Palm Beach County jail did not have a wave of inmate deaths. The men and women both correctional staff and civilian employee support staff have remained steadfast and maintained the jails.
I would like to recognize the Heroes of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, my former employer, as well as the two other facilities in our community Sago Palm Correctional Faculty, and GEO Correctional Facility South Bay that has gallantly and heroically carried out their duties and responsibilities during this pandemic, even when they have suffered significant losses of fellow officers, civilian employees, personal losses of family members, as well as friends, and numerous community members. They reported for duty, quelled disturbances, broke up fights, cleared floods, put out fires and continued to represent the agencies with professionalism.
I would like to personally thank our County Sheriff, Ric L. Bradshaw, whose leadership and insight resulted in trying to get his proverbial hands around the pandemic. He followed the path of the Proverbs’ which says “The shrewd man sees the danger and conceals himself but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffers the consequences.” He approved of mitigation strategies where it was possible allowing staff who were eligible to work from home. His Corrections Administration Chief Deputy Frank DeMario, Colonel Afonso Starling, Majors Michael DeVoter and Darlyn Morris recognized that they would have to ensure the safety of all because of the congregant community. Unfortunately, there is no line of demarcation between the jail and community in a pandemic. Corrections administration quickly implemented best practices to keep staff and inmates safe. There was a campaign to make coverings for the entire inmate population in order to keep them as safe as possible. This truly cut the spread of the virus within the confines of the facilities. Staff has had the availability of the vaccine for months and the inmates has been given the ability to be vaccinated as well.
Deputies/correctional officers had to leave family members and actually walk into an unknown environment every day. Many deputies were afraid of the unknown but they persevered and resiliently reported to work. Some had to work doubles to compensate for colleagues who were out sick. They reported to work and got the job done. Deputy Sheriff Nakeshia Zambrano was selected as this year’s Deputy of the Year and CSP Alma Wells was selected as Civilian of the Year.
Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to recognize the deputies/corrections officers and civilian support staff members that succumbed to death this year. They were HEROES and represented Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office with class, dignity, distinction, and proudness.
May we never forget:
• Sergeant Jose Diaz-Ayala
• Deputy Sheriff Maurice Ford
• Deputy Sheriff Angela Chavers
• CSP Gregory Pierre
• Sergeant Marcus Janes
• Nurse Smallhorne (Nursing Staff)
• BUMPY Patricia Newby (Kitchen)
Retirees that died this year:
• CSP John Rodney
• Colonel Keith Chambers
• Sergeant Patricia Gardner
• Captain Charles LeClair
Heroes Work Here
Heroes work Here
That should be reason to cheer
They come summer, winter, spring and fall
Never missing that call
Our Mantra used to be I’ll do eight and hit the gate
Now Sarge has coined the word “Mandate”
Overtime is available can you help us out of a jam
Sarge says come on in I’ve already pulled a TAM
Twenty-Twenty was not a good year at all
Too many of our heroes answered that clarion call
Diaz, Janes, Ford, Chavers and Pierre
Our friends are no longer here
Let’s always remember them from working here
Their memories in our hearts we hold dear
Each as different as they were the same
All of them we held in high ACCLAIM
Let’s do eight and hit the gate
Heroes work here let’s celebrate