As a correctional officer I know firsthand the unique pressures and challenges Component 1 members face every day on the job. I know how much pride you all take in your primary duty: ensuring the safety and security of inmates, our fellow officers and the general public.
I know how much time and effort you put in to training, education and supervision to prevent and avoid tragedies on the job. And I know that tragedies like the recent death of an inmate during transfer from Prince George to Kamloops happen anyway - they're rare, but they happen, and when they do it is devastating for everyone involved.
I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of the BCGEU and the component executive to express my support for the members involved in the recent in-custody death and my commitment to making sure they have access to all the resources and supports they need to deal with the psychological, emotional and professional aftermath of this incident.
As part of that commitment, I will make sure that the employer lives up to its obligation to ensure that members are provided all the tools, resources and training to handle any situation on the job. I will also take an active interest in all of the reviews and investigations that are required by policy after an incident like this.
I can tell you that, at this point, the employer's initial review has revealed that both COs involved followed policy and protocol, and as such, no discipline is required. That is good news and I will keep you posted if any other relevant findings emerge.
What I won't do is jump into the media fray. Some of you have contacted me to express your frustration at the tone and content of the media coverage of this event, including how the media is portraying our members.
I understand and share your frustration. It's difficult to see our profession getting publicly criticized. But it's important to keep your focus and your energy where it can do the most good - taking care of yourselves and your fellow officers - and to remember that our strength is in our solidarity.
Vice President, BCGEU Corrections and Sheriff Services Component
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