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Correctional Officers – We Never Walk Alone
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 12/30/2013

Handshake The phrase “We never walk alone” has many different meanings but it sums up to say that no one in the proud and prestigious profession of being a correctional officer isn’t a vital part of the group this body represents within the law enforcement community. The phrase is a reflection of strength, courage, devotion and unified goodness among a special kind of people. One can find such a reflection of unity in the Brotherhood of Correctional Officers that echoes these words from its original founder.

Correctional officers face a variety of stress and troubles. They have to deal with the struggles of others while handling a fair amount of their own. Stress is the common denominator and when there is a need for help, others come together to bail you out. Although the struggles are different, they are common to all that serve. Some are forced to work without pay during government shutdowns or sequestered working conditions. Others are reduced in force and struggle to make ends meet and still keep things safe.

Often reminded by my friends and companions of the love of the job that is most difficult and complex to understand unless one walked in those shoes for more than a mile. I have served many positions and different systems but found the companionship and love for each other refreshing and unique in ways often difficult to put into words. It is most of all, an emotional spirit that keeps us together even far beyond the time you leave your duty post on the wall and retire to continue to support others. Words cannot express what is sacrificed within these walls of pain and darkness.

Love it or leave it is a common thought. Many will testify of its cruel and harsh ways within the job and at the same time glorify its inspirational code of conduct that sets them apart from others on the thin blue line. It would be impossible to count or calculate all the good that is done from such work and many like myself have been blessed because of it. In our hearts, we never leave those that shared the pain and sorrow and never do you forget the courage that keeps them apart from others that carry a badge and a gun to get the job done. In corrections there are seldom guns and fear is handled through courage and guts.

It is during these times that we become a unified group and an integral part of each other; an anchor and a constant source of support and energy to overcome our problems. Through this process we seek for what we yearn; peace and safety amongst us. We do not have the ultimate power but as a group or family we are an amazing source of strength as we comfort each other in our hours of need and knowing well the common dilemma is difficult to overcome as no one knows us better than we know ourselves. We believe in new beginnings as well as finding the will to fight whatever it is that fights us. Working together on or off the job is for the good of all is appreciated by all that share the collective burdens.

We never walk alone during times of desperation or thoughts and talk of detachment from others. Even when there are thoughts of isolation we come together so you never walk alone. Fear is managed and faith is the survivor as we find ourselves in circumstances most complex to handle by ourselves.

We never walk alone when the times are good and the celebration is cause for a good time or two. There will be times when you will walk the toughest beat in the criminal justice system created in this mortal world and populated by individuals of ill repute and predacious mindsets. How we keep our sights on doing this job is only understood by those that navigate the walks of life as well as the gates of Hell.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:



Comments:

  1. Squeeze on 01/02/2014:

    I agree with the article, we don't walk alone. When I first started in Corrections (state facility) we were considered as "two steps below a crooked cop" by the public and some others in the CJ community. It has taken 30 years and much work by us in the corrections community to change that image. We as corrections professionals have worked hard and diligently to transform that ancient view of the public from prison guards to Corrections Officers. Now even the other members of the CJ community are recognizing us for our professionalism. I still get former police officers who won't come to work in the jail though.Praise and prayers to all those working in Corrections, our brothers and sisters!!


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