Just before I left work yesterday, a phone call came, letting me know that one of the unit sergeants had died. He hadn't come to work, hadn't called. Not typical behavior for him at all. Law enforcement was notified. He was found dead at home. Not suicide. No foul play. Just dead.
The superintendent and other administrators made the rounds during that shift, letting staff know what had happened. The face to face notification is just as important for staff as it is for the offenders I see when I have to tell them someone they know has died.
For the staff, this is a difficult time. It's the third officer to die in just over a year. And a well-loved support staff person died last winter as well.
While there is sometimes a stiff upper lip attitude among staffers, there is always the awareness that we work in a dangerous place, that stress can and does become unmanageable, that each day could be the last.
When a staff person dies and there's a funeral, people turn out in droves. If it's an officer, the honor guard will be there. Sometimes there is also a memorial service at the prison, but that depends on the family's wishes. We find ways to grieve and mark the memories. There is a set of benches out in front of the facility, facing a stone with the names of those who have died carved into it.
This week, there's a new name to add. Remember Steve.