Move Forward Campaign Puts Corrections Work in the Spotlight

MCO is proud to announce a new effort aimed at promoting corrections and forensic officers and the values and standards that set them apart in the criminal justice system.

poster 1 Professionalism-02The Move Forward campaign ties together all of our recent efforts to promote professionalism in corrections and draws attention to the diverse and unique work expected of the modern-day corrections officer.

Through the campaign, we’ll introduce a new value, accompanied by an inspirational poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. These posters will be displayed on the union bulletin board at your facility, the MCO website, Facebook and new Instagram page.

In addition, a special 50th anniversary logo and coin will be unveiled to celebrate MCO’s 50 years of advocacy on behalf of corrections officers and forensic security assistants.

The campaign is also a way to affirm our position that as corrections officers, we can have a meaningful influence on policy and help shape the direction of our statewide and national criminal justice systems. By speaking with “One Voice,” MCO has created a nation-wide effort to inject the voices of officers into the corrections reform debate. This allows you the ability to impact the safety, health, and security of staff and inmates alike. More on One Voice will be in the next MCO Report.

This is how we start to change the narrative and tell a new story about corrections officers.  For years, MCO members have pushed for increased engagement and communication. These are your messages. Thank you, members, for your continued support.

Make sure you stay up to date by reading the KYI and MCO Report. Get MCO news first – sign up for our email alerts and join our members-only Facebook group. Have feedback on the Move Forward campaign? Send your thoughts to mail@mco-seiu.org.

The Value of Character

CharacterYour character tells a story about who you are and where you’ve been. We’re not born with character – it’s instilled in us from a young age and shaped by our families and our experiences.

Character is this month’s value in the Michigan Corrections Organization – Move Forward Campaign. Throughout the campaign, we’ll introduce a shared value of our membership, accompanied by a unique poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. Click poster at left to see it larger.

At the academy, our fellow recruits and trainers help us to develop our character as we learn the high standards required by a career in corrections. When we get to the institution, our supervisors, co-workers and mentors help us to sharpen those skills and bring character to all aspects of our work.

Character is vital because we must rely on each other when stressful or dangerous situations arise behind the walls.

“In a prison, we have to be vigilant and prepared, knowing that anything could happen at any time,” said CO Tim Fleury of Alger Correctional Facility. “If you have faith in your partner’s character, you know they’ll be at your side and have your back. That makes all the difference. We must have character because we are trusting each other with our lives.”

Why is character important to you? MCO wants to hear from you and lift up your stories. This is how we start to change the narrative on the corrections profession. Email MCO Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org.

 

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The Value of Honor

HonorPosterIn corrections, the term honor can take on many forms. From high standards to personal achievements, honor is regarded and sought after by every member of our profession.

To many, honor is earned and at times comes with great sacrifice. To acknowledge these contributions, honor is this month’s value in the Michigan Corrections Organization – Move Forward Campaign. Throughout the campaign, we’ll introduce a shared value of our membership, accompanied by a unique poster, every month until Labor Day 2018.

The honor poster depicts the Michigan Department of Corrections Honor Guard, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The Honor Guard was formed in response to the slaying of corrections officers Josephine McCallum and Jack Budd.

After McCallum’s death in 1987, departmental leaders recruited then inspector Bruce Curtis to put together a paramilitary style unit that would represent the MDOC at her funeral. Young recruits were picked from the correctional officer training academy and practiced for less than a week before the service was held. Sadly, months later, the Honor Guard was again asked to step in and provide representation at the funeral of Officer Jack Budd who was tragically killed by an inmate at the State Prison of Southern Michigan.

Over 300 attended the unveiling and dedication of the Fallen Officers Memorial, Sunday, May 7, 2017, in front of the MCO headquarters in Lansing. [Photo courtesy of MessageMakers]

Photo courtesy of MessageMakers.com.

Now Honor Guard members from across the state, many of whom are COs, console the families and co-workers of fallen corrections staff throughout the United States. They volunteer their personal time to show solemn gratitude for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

To read more about the history and service of the Michigan Honor Guard, click here.

Over 300 attended the unveiling and dedication of the Fallen Officers Memorial, Sunday, May 7, 2017, in front of the MCO headquarters in Lansing. [Photo courtesy of www.MessageMakers.com]

Photo courtesy of www.MessageMakers.com.

At times, we in corrections may not always feel honored or appreciated but it’s up to us to respect each other, honor our accomplishments and encourage each other to strive for this noble distinction. By honoring our coworkers’ good deeds, as well as our own, we can begin to change the image of corrections and rewrite the narrative that is falsely depicted in television and movies. If we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for us.

Look for this honor poster and others in the series in your facility soon.

Have additional thoughts or a personal story about what honor means to you? Email Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org

 

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MCO: Gratitude amid Adversity

Corrections officers come from many different backgrounds and walks of life. But certain virtues – respect, humility, gratitude – unite them all.

In this video, Michigan Corrections Officer Jorge Miller talks about his gratefulness for the direction and values instilled in him by his parents, who passed away when he was a teenager.

These are some of the same values Michigan Corrections Organization is lifting up as part of Move Forward, MCO’s campaign to elevate corrections and forensic officers in the criminal justice system and celebrate MCO’s 50 years of advocacy. MCO is changing the narrative on corrections work by drawing attention to the diverse and professional work expected of the modern-day corrections officer.

Despite the adversity he faced, Officer Miller made good choices. Now, he’s a corrections officer setting an example for inmates and others.

“(When my mom died,) I told her that I was going to make something of myself and be someone someday, for her,” CO Miller said.

The day he graduated from the Michigan Department of Corrections Training Academy in the David Bergh class was a proud day for Miller. He said his primary focus in his new career is to custody and security. Beyond that, he hopes to guide inmates to prepare for release and reintegration into society.

Many Michigan corrections officers share a sense of thankfulness for their parents, mentors, coworkers, and others who encouraged them to make good choices and do the right thing even when it was a challenge.

CO Miller told MCO he’s fortunate he made good choices despite the loss of his parents. He credits a strong support system of family and friends.

“I’m very grateful and blessed,” he said.

Family friend Steve Reiger said Miller will make an excellent corrections officer.

“I think that in the future, the people of Michigan are going to have a lot more to see from Jorge Miller,” Reiger said.

There are many admirable Michigan corrections officers who are setting good examples for other staff, inmates, and their community. Do you or one of your coworkers have an inspirational story? MCO wants to hear from you and lift up your stories. This is how we start to change the narrative on corrections work. Email MCO Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org.

Michigan Corrections Organization/SEIU represents more than 6,500 corrections and forensic officers working at state prisons and at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

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MCO Introduces 50th Anniversary Logo

MCO 50_Color&Black webMCO is proud to reveal a special logo in recognition of our 50 years of service to Michigan corrections officers and forensic security staff.

“This logo symbolizes all the advances we’ve made for our members over the decades, and reminds us to look with hope toward our next 50 years,” said Andy Potter, MCO Vice President and Chief of Staff.  “Our membership numbers are the highest among state employee unions and we are engaging members about the issues important to them. After all these years, we are still solid, and we will carry on our legacy for future generations of members.”

MCO's 50th anniversary coin.

MCO’s 50th anniversary coin.

In honor of our anniversary, all members received a commemorative coin with the anniversary logo on front and the twelve professional values we integrate into our daily lives on back. Coins were mailed with the holiday package and we encourage each recipient to carry this coin and recall the foundation upon which MCO is built.

“I hope, when you look at this coin, you remember all the staff that came before you,” said MCO President Tom Tylutki. “As you hold it in your hand, I hope you understand what our founders knew: that when we work together, each of us is stronger than we would be on our own.”

MCO came into existence in 1968 when a group of corrections officers met to form an organization that would primarily focus on prison security and custody issues.Excellence

A lot has changed in 50 years. We should all be proud and humbled to say that what started as a grassroots effort by a group of concerned officers is still thriving.

As a part of our Move Forward campaign, look for this special gold and black logo on our website, social media channels and in publications throughout 2018.

This is more than a simple logo but a symbol of what we believe in and who we are as professionals and as colleagues.

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The Value of Sacrifice

SacrificeCorrections staff are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Prisons never close, and dangerous situations can unfold any time of the day or night. Corrections staff work holidays, weekends, and evenings. They routinely miss holidays, special events and moments with their families. In addition to regular shifts, many officers are mandated to work overtime, sometimes more than once a week, due to the staffing crisis.

That is why this month’s value in the Move Forward Campaign is sacrifice. Through the campaign, we’ll introduce a new value, accompanied by a values poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. Look for this sacrifice poster in your facility soon. Read more about Move Forward. (Click the poster image at left to see it larger.)

Every day when corrections staff go to work behind the walls, they make a sacrifice. Not only do they sacrifice their physical and mental health, but they sacrifice moments with their families and friends. Compounding this problem are officers’ irregular hours and forced overtime.

“It’s extremely difficult to be told, at the end of your shift, that you’re going to have to work another eight hours,” WHV CO Voncha Henderson said. “Officers must quickly make arrangements for childcare, cancel appointments, and back out of social events. This unexpected work really takes a toll on our mental and physical well-being. It’s especially disheartening when it happens around the holidays when everyone wants to be at home with family.”

While corrections staff aren’t the only profession to work long and irregular hours, they make the most of it because what they do matters across the state. They know that sacrifice is going above and beyond in their work place to make a positive impact on those incarcerated and their coworkers.

And, as always, let’s not forget that due to the unpredictable nature of this work, some corrections officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.

  • George Haight, a gate keeper, was poisoned by an inmate at the Michigan State Penitentiary in Jackson. End of watch: March 27, 1893.
  • Earl F. DeMarse, a corrections officer at the Marquette Branch Prison, was stabbed 15 minutes into his shift. End of watch: Sept. 25, 1973.
  • Josephine McCallum, a new employee, was found murdered at the bottom of a stairwell in the activities building of Jackson Central. End of watch: March 24, 1987.
  • Jack Budd passed away after being repeatedly stabbed by an inmate at the State Prison of Southern Michigan. End of watch: Dec. 27, 1987.

Read more about our fallen officers.

If you are off work around the holidays, please take a moment to think of the corrections staff sacrificing their bodies, minds, and time with their own families to keep Michigan safe.

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Listen: Move Forward on MDOC Field Days podcast

In this Field Days podcast, MCO staff talk about Move Forward, MCO’s campaign to promote corrections and forensic officers and the values and standards that set them apart in the criminal justice system. Listen to the podcast now.

Andy Potter, Vice President/Chief of Staff, and Jeremy Tripp, Government and Political Affairs Director, are interviewed. Thanks, MDOC, for promoting Move Forward!

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The Value of Loyalty

Corrections staff are extremely loyal – to our work, to the people of Michigan, and to each other.

LoyaltyThat is why this month’s value in the Move Forward Campaign is loyalty. Through the campaign, we’ll introduce a new value, accompanied by an inspirational poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. Look for this loyalty poster in your facility soon. Read more about Move Forward. (Click the poster image at left to see it larger.)

When we as MCO members talk about having each other’s back, we’re showing our loyalty to our corrections family. When we speak up about safety and security risks, we not only express our concern, but our loyalty to each other.

MCO leaders and staff appreciate the loyalty of our members and all staff. We know you have always had a choice as to whether you belong. MCO is a movement, and we appreciate your loyalty to the movement and your coworkers. We reached out to a few members to ask what loyalty means to them.

“Whether you have almost 30 years in like me, or you’re just starting your career, be loyal to the MDOC and the profession,” said Terry Bridges, an SAI corporal with 30 years in the MDOC. “That means come to work squared away and ready for whatever might happen, because no two days are the same. Be ready to back up your partner. Know that you are appreciated, even though you may not feel it every day.”

CO David Altenberndt, an RGC officer with 33 years, had this advice for staff.

“Police, firefighters, and military are loyal to each other because they have to be. That’s their occupation and it’s expected of them. In corrections we have to be loyal to each other, too,” Altenberndt said. “Respect your position as officers and put yourself on a higher level. Remember you’re in a position where, like a policeman or someone in the service, people hold you to a higher standard. Always try to achieve that….

“When we’re loyal to each other, we all have the confidence to know we can come to work every day and go home safe at the end of the day.”

Erin Griffith, a CO with the MDOC about three years, had a different perspective.

“There’s more loyalty and camaraderie in corrections (than my previous jobs) because our fellow COs are the only ones who know and understand what happens when we go through those gates to go to work every day,” Griffith said. “The physical and psychological aspects of our work bind us together.”

Thank you, members, for your loyalty to MCO and each other.

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MCO: A Legacy of Service

Across Michigan, men and women from all walks of life have proudly worn the black and grey and have done so with distinction and integrity.  It’s a proud legacy that many families share and a proud tradition that is passed from one generation to the next.

 

In this video, Kyle Henderson, now an officer at Central Michigan Correctional Facility, discusses his motivation for entering into the corrections field and reflects on the trail set before him by his father, Bill Henderson, MCO Executive Treasurer and corrections officers at Saginaw Correctional Facility for 27 years.

“It’s a tough job,” Bill Henderson said. “It’s a lot harder than people realize. You’re wearing so many hats. You’re a counselor, you’re a minister, you’re a dad, you’re a little bit of everything in this job…

“I know that (Kyle) will do whatever it takes. If somebody is in danger, he’ll be there to help.”

Kyle was a member of the David Bergh class at the corrections academy and graduated in December of 2016.  Understanding the work and demands of a corrections officer better than most, Kyle said he wants to be “that role model that people need.”

This video release is part of Move Forward, a campaign to elevate corrections and forensic officers in the criminal justice system and celebrate MCO’s 50 years of advocacy.

If you have a son, daughter, or grandchild who is starting a corrections career or come from a multi-generational corrections family, let us know. Email Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org.

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The Value of Community

Community posterCorrections staff might be hidden behind prison walls, but when their shift is over, they are a visible force for good in their communities.Whether they’re coaching little league sports, fighting fires, or working at a food pantry, corrections staff volunteer their time to serve and improve communities.

Community is the second theme in MCO’s new Move Forward Campaign. Through the campaign, we’ll introduce a new value, accompanied by an inspirational poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. There will also be videos, stories, and more to celebrate Move Forward and our 50 years of advocacy on behalf of corrections officers and forensic security assistants. Look for this community poster in your facility soon. (Click the poster to view it larger.)

MCO is leading a state and national campaign aimed at elevating the corrections profession in the eyes of department administrators, lawmakers, the media, and the public. We have been cultivating relationships with MDOC administration, legislators, and other policy makers so our advocacy for corrections officers will have a greater impact.

Jackson-area COs helped Blackman Township police with their Shop with a Cop program last year. Shop with a Cop is just one way officers give back to their communities. CO Melvin and his daughter, Izzy Melvin, Ms. Great Lakes Outstanding Teen, helped the kids shop and wrap gifts. Photo by Sheila Melvin.

Jackson-area COs helped Blackman Township police with their Shop with a Cop program last year. Shop with a Cop is just one way officers give back to their communities.
CO Melvin and his daughter, Izzy Melvin, Ms. Great Lakes Outstanding Teen, helped the kids shop and wrap gifts. Photo by Sheila Melvin.

For years, MCO members have pushed for increased engagement and communication. These are your messages. Thank you, members, for your continued support.

Corrections staff can help by establishing even more relationships in their communities. Find something you’re passionate about and get involved. Talk to people about your job – the training, the stress, and the recruitment needs. Tell them you’re a first-responder, a teacher, and a mentor wrapped into one. Make sure they know that you protect and care about your community.

We asked some corrections officers why it’s important to volunteer in their communities. Below are some of their comments.

Are you volunteering in your community? Let us know. You can email anita@mco-seiu.org with a short description of your volunteer work. Please include your name and phone number so we can contact you. We encourage you to send photos of your volunteer work, too!

“We’re not just corrections officers; we’re people. We’re living in our communities, and we want to make our communities better. Not only for ourselves, but for our kids and everybody else’s kids. If we can all come together and do that, I think it makes the community stronger.”

– Nichole Sheffield, STF. Helped found and volunteers at Charlton Heston Academy in St. Helen; volunteers at Helping Hands.

“Some people don’t trust police officers, and they don’t trust corrections officers … It’s individuals like myself and others that meet them, talk to them, and change their minds. They’re like, ‘you’re not what I thought a corrections officer typically would be.’ That’s important because we have been stereotyped so many times, and this is the only way, by us being active or being seen in our communities, that we break those stereotypes.” –

Steven Smith, MTF. Crime prevention organizer; deacon at True Light Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids; former president of the board of directors for the Southeast Community Association in Grand Rapids.

“Number one, volunteering allows us to give back to those who have given to us. Two, I think that it opens that door of communication for the community to ask questions of us and see a different side of us than what we’re portrayed as in the media.”

– Pam Basal, MBP. School volunteer; UP area chairperson of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

“It lets people know that you are human and that you care. That you’re not just here in this community working, but you live in the community, and you care what’s happening in the community. You want to be an integral part of it.”

– Richie Gallatin, ARF. Special Olympics volunteer; JV basketball coach; Sand Creek Community Schools Treasurer.

 

 

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The Value of Professionalism

Behind the walls of Michigan’s prisons, you – more than 6,500 hidden heroes – work. Your courage and caring qualifies you to stand between Michigan’s communities and the thousands of people incarcerated across the state. Although often unacknowledged and underappreciated, you are a humane and constant force in Michigan correctional facilities and the Center for Forensic Psychiatry. You aren’t a babysitter or a guard; you’re a corrections expert who manages an inmate population in a difficult and sometimes dangerous setting.

You’re a professional.

poster 1 Professionalism-02Professionalism is the first theme in MCO’s new Move Forward Campaign. Through the campaign, we’ll introduce a new value, accompanied by an inspirational poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. There will also be videos, stories, and more to celebrate our 50 years of advocacy on behalf of corrections officers and forensic security assistants. Read more about the Move Forward Campaign here.

MCO is the midst of a state and national campaign to move corrections toward a more professional work model. Michigan corrections officers receive top-notch training, including 320 hours of academy learning, plus two months of on-the-job training. Like a police training academy, the corrections academy is a regimented program that instills esprit de corps among recruits.

Here’s a special version of the Move Forward Professionalism poster that celebrates FSAs at the Forensic Center.

Here’s a special version of the Move Forward Professionalism poster that celebrates FSAs at the Forensic Center. Click to view larger.

Let that shared bond and sense of professionalism continue throughout your career.

“A good corrections officer isn’t just here for a paycheck. They’re here because they want to serve the public and they’re here to do a good job, an honest job,” said CTO Jeff Reasoner, who started with the MDOC 18 years ago. “We are members of the criminal justice system, and the ones that actually realize that and think of themselves as corrections professionals do much better.”

“Some people like to say, ‘Oh, you’re a guard,’” said 27-year Officer Richie Gallatin, of Gus Harrison. “Well, we’re more than that. We are part of the law enforcement commu­nity.

“To a certain extent, this job is what you make it. You can go in and just put in your eight hours, or you can make a difference. I was always taught that you do a job and give your all, and that’s what I’ve tried to do. If I feel I can make a difference, I try to.

IMG_6470cropped“That’s what it means to be a professional – to care about your work, to value it, and take advantage of the opportunities for growth in the workplace.”

Every CO can take small steps to promote the professionalism of corrections officers. By doing so, you are also doing your part to change the old, tired narratives about corrections officers. These recommendations may seem minor, but, if all 6,500 Michigan COs practice them every day, their cumulative impact on the public’s perception of corrections staff could be huge.

  • Be comfortable with giving and receiving praise. Don’t belittle or diminish the professional achievements of fellow officers or yourself. Lift up your coworkers’
    accomplishments and your own.
  • If someone calls you a prison guard, tell them you are more than that. You are a corrections officer who sacrifices personal safety and well-being every day to keep communities safe. You are a mentor, a teacher, a manager, and a law enforcement officer wrapped into one.
  • Be open to talking about your job publicly, with your neighbors, family, and friends. When we boldly show our faces and tell our stories, our genuineness can earn public trust and empathy.
  • Be willing to talk about corrections with people who misunderstand the work you do. Strive to find common ground, even if it’s narrow.
  • Take all the training you can get. The extra training and experience you receive will only bolster your case when you say you are a professional.

Thank you, members, for the professionalism and strength you show every day. MCO leaders and staff recognize and appreciate your work, and we commend you for your tireless dedication to Michigan’s toughest job.

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