Brandon P. hit up the Law Officer Facebook page and asked why correctional officers don't get the same respect as police officers.
I'll tell you Brandon, I'm not sure that is the case, but I'll certainly take a look.
I've met plenty of correctional officers and jail deputies whom I would happily take with me on a march to hell and back. Just thinking about that reminds me of the first guy I arrested on my first day of work at my current department. It was some sort of weird disturbance call between a man and a woman at a park. As soon as I walked up to this guy, I had a really bad feeling. I quickly talked him into cuffs because he was about three times my size and already agitated. He had a warrant my FTO and I ended up arresting him for and he wanted to fight all the way to jail.
I walked into the booking area ahead of my FTO and the crook to explain to the jail deputies about this idiot's attitude. There were only three deputies working the booking area, but they were big, strong and game. They brought the guy in and were the definition of professionalism. They treated this guy with respect and dignity and gave him every chance to just get through booking and take care of his warrant. The crook probably stood three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than the largest deputy, and when this crook blew up he went like an explosive breach—he was swinging, kicking and trying to bite. He lasted about a minute before these deputies pounded him into dust.
In their house, we let them handle the issues, so I got to hang back and watch the action with a front row seat. The deputies used great tactics, tried several times to reduce the level of force they were using and communicated perfectly with each other. I used to see those guys on a regular basis and they were always professional and friendly to both the cops and the crooks. I didn't then and I don't now have a bad thing to say about them or the people they work with.
In department situations where deputies start out working the jails and move to the streets, it looks like a promotion. That is probably the first reason jail deputies get less respect than street deputies or street cops. Most of this is brought on by the personal opinions of the deputies staying in the jail and the cops and deputies already moving to the streets.
Everyone knows that one of the most annoying, cockiest people in the world is a new street cop. They love telling stories and making themselves out to be the baddest guys or gals on the planet. It's not a big deal—the smart ones will grow out of it and learn that there is much more to life than cop stories. My guess is that correctional officers have similar stories, but often times, they are more weird than glamorous. I've had some great conversations with current and former corrections people about the crazy things that happen inside jails, so I'm not sure why it is that people prefer street stories.
What should be going on is those on the streets should be listening to those working custody to get a greater insight into the criminal mind. People working custody have an enormous advantage over people going straight to the streets because they have a much better understanding of criminals and the connections they make while they're locked up. Cops should hold them and their knowledge in high regard and get as much info from them as possible. I know street deputies who work a shift or two a month at the local jail, just to keep that information flowing their way and to keep them in touch with what is happening inside and with the local gangs.
So to answer your question, I'm not sure why correctional people don't get the same respect as street people. They have an incredibly difficult job dealing with the worst of society. Along with having one of the toughest jobs, they also don't get to pull into a coffee shop and get a tasty beverage and a nice smile from the friendly staff. For the most part, they don't even get to see the sun throughout their shift. It is tough, thankless work and it deserves the same respect as any other job in the public safety sector. I never worked custody but after dealing with many custody people at the county, state and federal level, I know I missed a piece of the puzzle. I give correctional people all the respect they deserve and so should we all.