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CINDY BEAMON

A word of thanks to those who serve to protect us

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By Cindy Beamon
Albemarle Life Editor

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When my husband took a job at a prison in Chesapeake, Va., about seven years ago, I did not view it as a threat.

He was hired to keep computerized heating and air conditioning systems working at the facility. The work seemed harmless enough to me, even after I learned that some offenders assist him with jobs. He liked interacting with the men and having a chance to influence them toward making better decisions when they leave prison.

Bob had worked a long career in the private sector, so what caught my attention when he started the job was all the rules. Head counts, security stops, prisoner arrivals or departures, so much seemed to slow down progress in making repairs.

Each time he goes into the prison he has to take off his shoes so they can be scanned. A pat-down body search is also part of the routine.

Each day, he has to list all the tools that he takes in and out. If he forgets something and has to leave the prison to get what he needs, he has to pass through the searches again. At the end of the day, if one tool turns up missing, the building is locked down and the search does not stop until it is found.

Staff is repeatedly warned not to give offenders anything. My husband turned down one helper who asked for some glue to repair his broken shoe. No exceptions, he's been told.

At times, I have thought all the precautions seemed excessive, but recent events have helped me better understand their importance.

The five deaths of prison workers at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution was a dose of reality for me. I grieved, like so many people, over the senseless deaths of good men and women.

Perhaps that shared sorrow was why the community responded so quickly to one four-year-old boy's desire to brighten the day for staff at the prison.

Landon Brothers did not know what had happened when he met two correctional officers on the day of a co-worker's funeral. After his brief encounter, he came up with the idea of making cookies for the prison staff to make them happy. His sister Mylie suggested that the family ask for help on Facebook.

The simple suggestion struck a chord with people in the community. When the family posted the idea on Facebook, more than 80 families and businesses baked homemade treats that were delivered Sunday. Many other groups have also shown their support to prison staff since the failed prison escape on Oct. 12, said Pasquotank County Lt. Brent McKecuen, who came with his family to help with the delivery.

Landon's parents said they teach their children to thank firefighters and police for risking their lives to protect others. Landon's father Josh Brothers was a police officer and Landon's grandfather was a firefighter, so the family understands the sacrifices that those duties require.

Josh Brothers said he was not surprised about his children's desire to bake cookies for the prison staff.

"All three of them have big hearts," Josh said of his family. "They are always thinking of others and that warms my heart because we need more of that today."

I agree.

Cindy Beamon is editor of the Albemarle Life section of The Daily Advance.

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