******Sheriff Bowler Press Release******
Next week is an important week for the men and women who work for the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office. National Correctional Officers Week is May 3-9 and National Nurses Week is May 6-12. I want to take this time to ask the public to keep these courageous men and women in their thoughts and prayers.
We often hear of the first line responders in terms of Police, Fire and EMS and they deserve every ounce of recognition they receive and more. In this time of COVID-19, we often hear appreciation for the doctors and nurses working in our hospitals and that is certainly well-deserved. There are a host of other workers from those working in grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores and the like that we have found a new appreciation for during this pandemic.
How many of us take the time to think about and appreciate the men and women who work behind the wire in our jails to keep you and your family safe? They are out of sight and out of mind for most people. I think they deserve a huge show of appreciation from the public.
Can you imagine yourself working in a job where every day you walk alone into a housing unit and are locked in a room surrounded by 20-30 offenders with no weapons and just your interpersonal communication skills to effectively manage your housing unit for 8 hours? These officers work amongst some very violent and hostile inmates. Yet, they treat the inmates with respect and dignity and they try to help them with the problems that landed them in jail. Some of our inmates come from a broken family and have not had strong role models in their lives. Our staff often serve as role models to those inmates who witness their pride in doing a difficult job and their professionalism.
I can think of no more under appreciated group of American workers than the men and women who work in corrections. Corrections is a 24/7/365 enterprise. The nature of the work often means that these men and women often do not get weekends off and have to leave their families on holidays (like Thanksgiving and Christmas) and go to work.
In this time of the COVID pandemic, they have continued to report to work every single day. They have taken on the added responsibility of scrubbing the jail down continuously to try to keep COVID outside our facility. They have practiced good hygiene and encouraged the inmates to do the same. The same atmosphere that the inmates live in, these brave men and women work in every day before returning home to their families. I am extremely proud of the fact that none of our inmates are COVID positive. That is a true testament to the great work our correctional staff does.
So I would ask the public at this time to think of the correctional officers, nurses, case managers, mental health clinicians, teachers, program and IT staff and maintenance workers and other staff who work at the jail and keep them in your thoughts.