The collective heart drop

There is one thing that few people truly understand the feeling of.  Law enforcement and soldiers know the feeling well.  That is, the collective heart drop.  We had such a day a few days ago that caused one.

That day was like any other day.  Everyone completing tier checks, paperwork, and preparing for shift change.  Then, it happens.  A call over the radio that there is a fight in a particular unit and two officers are down.  At this point, we have very little info other than two officers being down.  We are a family here so when the call comes that two officers are down, two family members are down.  That is what I call the collective heart drop.  When everyone feels their hearts drop in their chest.

We have response teams to respond to any emergency, including fights. If you are not on the response team, you are NOT to respond.  Do you have any idea of how hard it is to continue on like normal and not be able to run over to defend our own?  It's tough. It's something that very few outside of law enforcement or military will ever understand.

In the end, it turned out the officers were only slightly injured and didn't even have to go to the hospital.  Such a relief to us all.  Nevertheless, for those that have never felt that heart drop until that day, I have a feeling that it won't easily be forgotten.

Old man fight

Until recently, we had two guys on one of the tiers in my unit that were best buds.  They would sit and watch tv all day with each other.  They are two pretty old guys.  Well, recently they got into an argument over the tv that turned into a full blown fight.  Happens all the time around here.  The funny thing was, a few minutes in they both get tired and sit down to take a breather.  Then they start up again!  Seriously, who stops a fight to take a breather?  Old men I guess.

Don't let life get you down

We have an offender that is here for life.  He will die here.  He is an older guy that is getting pretty close to that part.  One that if you saw outside of prison, you would think what a cute little old guy he is.  Years ago he had a hip surgery that was horribly botched and he has been in a wheelchair ever since.

In prison for life and stuck in a wheelchair and this guy is the happiest guy I have ever met.  He always has a smile on his face and is happy to see everybody.  I have no idea what got him here (he has been here a VERY long time) and I really don't care.  I am not his judge.  That isn't a part of my job.

Earlier today, while doing paperwork, I looked up from the computer into the camera just in time to see this particular inmate fly by the camera in his wheelchair with a huge grin on his face.  It was so funny to see him fly down the empty hallway.  I couldn't help but chuckle and shake my head.

He has really taken a bad situation and turned it around.  He says he found Jesus in prison and for once, I actually believe its true.  I can't imagine being so happy all the time in a place like this, especially stuck in a wheelchair.  Too bad more of us haven't learned to do the same.

Interesting use of the food port

The disciplinary reports I get sometimes make me laugh.  The things these inmates do cannot be made up.  I don't know about you, but I am not that creative.

So, we had an officer working in seg.  In order to feed the inmates, we have a food port we open and slip the food through.  Well, this particular inmate came up with quite the comeback for an officer he wasn't happy with.  He stuck his bare butt in the food port and farted just as the officer opened the food port.  Seriously, who thinks up and does something like that?  Though the officer was not happy, the rest of us got quite the laugh out of it.  I don't think he will ever live that one down.


Another incident where drugs has obviously messed with the mind of someone.  We had an offender that is known for using drugs.  The guy was so out of it that he had it in his head that he was sitting inside his cell even though he was in the dayroom.

So this inmate then proceeds to smoke some spice, thinking he is being all sneaky.  Of course he is doing this in front of everyone.  Then, to draw even more attention, he drops down into a seizure in the middle of the dayroom for the world to see.

When officers and medical came onto the tier to help him out, he still had it in his head that he was in his cell and had been the whole time.  Even after coming out of the seizure and returning to normal (for him anyway), he is still convinced that everything happened in the cell.  He isn't old or anything, just thoroughly messed in the head I guess and I don't suppose being in prison that the drugs he still uses are of any real quality.  Who knows what all is in anything he is smokin'.

It has spread through the facility lately like wildfire.  They can make it here pretty easily.  I have to ask why.  So far, we have seen many offenders end up in seizures and throwing up all over the place.  I mean, if you are going to risk it all to get high, shouldn't it at least be a fun high?  I don't know about you, but to me, seizures and barfing doesn't seem like any fun.

Family of the thin gray line

You know when someone talks about the thin blue line they are talking about police officers.  Did you know corrections has its own color?  We are the thin gray line.  We may be a different color, but we are still a tight nit family.

Today I want to show my support of those injured on the job so far this year.  I support all those ever injured on the job, but for some reason, some of the recent attacks have hit closer to home.  We love you all and are standing behind you!  We pray that you recover quickly both physically and mentally.  For those we lost, we pray for your families during this horrible time.  For the rest of you, be careful and watch you backs.  Don't ever let your guard down!

The little things

Most of these inmates are pretty good at what they do.  They are all here for different reasons but for the most part, they are here because they are good manipulators.  After all, that is how you survive in prison.  Being in prison doesn't exactly encourage honesty.

It's easy to allow yourself to be manipulated by these guys.  I see it all the time.  Even well seasoned officers fall into that trap.  To really be good at your job, you need to be able to spot manipulation.  None of us are perfect at it, but you must always be on the lookout.

A couple of months ago, I was working in a unit with an inmate that I had a feeling was manipulating staff quite well.  He is Mexican and always had someone with him to interpret for him.  We were told he didn't speak a lick of English.  This particular inmate had been in prison for years and yet had not learned to speak any English.  To me, that seems a great way to become fluent in any language.  Surround yourself with it all the time and you naturally absorb it.  Something just didn't seem right about it.  When we spoke, his eyes said to me that he did in fact at least understand English.  I seemed to be the only one that thought he was taking us on a ride but something just didn't sit right with me and he knew it.  I told him I knew he understood just fine.

Fast forward a few months and I begin working in a new unit.  A unit that he had at some point been moved to.  Funny thing, he spoke to me in perfect English from that very first time I saw him on. When I say perfect English, I mean it.  No accent, advanced words, and better grammar than most English speakers I know.  I would not be surprised to find out that English was actually his first language.

I think he gives me respect because he knows I didn't fall for his trick.  He knows I enjoy my job and am at least decent at it.  I have learned to pay attention to all the little things and not become complaisant.  You can't in this job because that is when the little things go unnoticed and later turn to big things.  Pay attention to all around you and trust your gut!  No matter what any one tells you, if something feels off, it probably is.  For me, this wasn't a big deal but for many officers, something like this could save your life.  A split second could make all the difference.  Don't allow that difference to be a bad thing.