Tallahassee, FL -- May 31, 2012 --
Bag pipes played and family members of the fallen fought back tears, as hundreds of correctional officers mourned the loss of three of their own.
Colonel Greg Malloy, Sgt. Ruben Thomas, and behavioral specialist Kirk Cummings are being added to this monument honoring Florida correctional officers killed in the line of duty.
Colonel Malloy was mortally wounded on February 2nd, 2011, Sgt. Thomas was fatally injured after being stabbed by an inmate. Cummings died of an apparent heart attack while at work.
As the officers honor their fallen, they’re also bracing for more state budget cuts. Prisons are being closed and 1300 positions are being eliminated. The officers were given the option to take corrections jobs in others parts of the state. Many did. Others opted for early retirement.
Department of Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker thanked the victims’ families for their sacrifice. After the ceremony I asked him if the budget cuts are making Florida prisons less safe.
“Ultimately, my number one priority as we look at the budget is officer safety,” said Tucker.
But danger comes with the territory. It’s a fact these officers face every day, knowing that the next 21 gun salute could be in their honor.
And just yesterday an officer at the Okeechobee Correction Institute had a close call while trying to disarm an inmate. The office was cut on his arm wrestling with an inmate armed with a shank.
So far this year eight DOC facilities have closed due to budget cuts and dwindling inmate populations. Three more will shut down by year’s end.
The eight that have closed:
Caryville Work Camp, Gainesville Correctional Institution, Hillsborough Correctional Institution, Indian River Correctional Institution, Levy Forestry Camp, New River Correctional Institution, New River O Unit, River Junction Work Camp
The three to close before July 1st:
Broward Correctional Institution, Demilly Correctional Institution, Hendry Work Camp