National Correctional Officers and (Correctional) Employee Appreciation Week

To the staff of the Hampshire Sheriff’s Office: this week is National Correctional Officers and (Correctional) Employee Appreciation Week, and I want to take a moment to thank you for all that you do.

I am humbled and honored to be able to work with you, a community of hardworking and under-recognized professionals who put yourselves at risk every single day and are proud to wear the uniform or the ID tag. THANK YOU.

To the outside community, let me describe what Correctional Officers do: they keep other staff safe, justice-involved individuals safe from each other and themselves, and fellow officers safe from those who would do them harm if they could. They do this selfless work while often short-staffed, sometimes in mandatory double shifts, and they rarely complain or draw attention to themselves. They deserve better than what they get, and a week’s recognition is not enough, nor is my simple but heartfelt gratitude.

What I will do to honor these professionals when I am Sheriff is change the climate and working conditions at the Hampshire County Jail as Job #1, because the best way I can show my appreciation is to improve their working conditions every day. The HSO will be one where Corrections Officers and all staff are seen, listened to, valued for their experience and expertise on the front lines, and recognized every day for their tireless efforts. It will be a facility where people enjoy coming to work again, feel safe at their place of work, and feel proud to serve the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. All staff will be well-equipped with the critical training and ongoing education essential to perform their jobs to the very best of their abilities, knowing that their hard work will be recognized and rewarded, and that career advancement will be based on merit and not personal connection.

In the same way that teachers who are treated well make for a successful and well-run school, a facility where officers and other staff are included in decision-making, and respected and valued for their daily contributions make for a safer and smoother-running agency for those in custody, the staff entrusted with their care, and the community they all belong to.

As your choice for Hampshire County Sheriff, I vow to make prioritizing the needs of all employees a top priority. I have the supervisory experience, managerial skills, and emotional intelligence to lead the HSO with vision, honor, and dignity. Through communication and collaboration, we will create together a model of correctional innovation. Hampshire County is a special place; its correctional facility should exemplify that.

Thank you to all the hardworking Correctional Officers everywhere but especially those of Hampshire County; I know what you do for all citizens, and I humbly thank you. --Yvonne Gittelson