As every officer knows, Corrections is a tough job. Working behind the walls can be difficult and the prison environment can take a deep toll on an individual.
In an effort to minimize these negative effects, MCO has initiated action to raise awareness of crimes occurring inside the prisons, specifically sexual deviant behavior and dressing out of officers by inmates.
This initiative was sparked during our 2015 member outreach program and after studying both Bargaining and State of Michigan Survey results. Across the board, MCO members had the following message: Correctional Officers are an important part of the criminal justice system and our profession should be treated with the dignity and respect it deserves.
MCO’s Legal Affairs Coordinator Jeff Foldie and Director of Government Affairs Jeremy Tripp began to outline a plan to improve the MDOC’s current process on handling these cases while protecting the dignity of officers targeted in these vile attacks.
In our campaign, MCO has reached out to the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM), Michigan State Police (MSP), Office of the Legislative Corrections Ombudsman (LCO), the Governors Office and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).
To date, MCO has met separately with PAAM, MDOC, LCO and the Governor’s Office to discuss a team approach to this ongoing problem.
In its meeting with officials from PAAM, President Michael Wendling of St. Clair County and Ionia County Prosecutor Ron Schafer were happy to sit down and discuss our ideas. MCO Staff were educated by Schafer on the pit-falls these types of prosecutions suffer from and what information prosecutors need for a successful conviction. Schafer’s office actively prosecutes these types of deviant behavior.
In December, a meeting was held with Deputy Director Ken McKee and Director Heidi Washington. After thoughtful discussion, MDOC agreed it would serve staff and the Department well to do whatever possible to protect the dignity of its employees.
MCO is currently waiting to hear from the MSP about meeting, so we can personally invite them to join the initiative.
Looking ahead, we recognize the hard work and dedication many counties and institutions are already doing on this work but feel the process can be improved dramatically. Obstacles that present a challenge range from: 1) prosecutorial workloads within the counties, 2) inconsistency from facilities in requesting prosecutions, 3) training in evidentiary matters, and 4) prisoner competency.
Good paying jobs and benefits are not the only interests that MCO fights for when it comes to its members. Dignity and respect for the job is a necessity, as well. “When one of our members steps behind those gates to protect the public, they need to know the broader law enforcement community has their back, no different than a police officer on the street,” Tripp told the PAAM officials.
Within the next few months, MCO hopes to get officials from all of the participating agencies at one table to talk about training and awareness. It is our hope that by forming a professional alliance, a more consistent statewide approach can be developed.
Officers, have you ever been dressed out? Maybe you have been the target of sexual misconduct by an inmate? MCO cares and would like to hear your story. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, facility, and brief description of what happened. An MCO staff member will contact you for more details. Or, you can call the MCO central office at (517)485-3310 and ask for Anita Lloyd.
MCO will keep members updated on this important initiative.
To read MCO’s official correspondence with PAAM and the MDOC, please click the links below: