Nov. 13, 2018
Karen Pojmann, Communications Director
Missouri Department of Corrections
On Monday, Nov. 12, an officer at Jefferson City Correctional Center was assaulted by an offender. The officer was escorting the offender to a cell in a segregated housing unit when the offender freed his hand from the restraints and attacked the officer with a homemade weapon hidden in his clothing. Approximately six fellow staff members responded swiftly and decisively, restraining the offender and preventing further injury. The officer sustained cuts to his face. After receiving first aid in the facility’s medical unit, he was taken to an outside medical facility, where his wounds were treated and stitched before he was released. He chose to return to work later that day.
“The officer met with administration this morning, and we are all so impressed with his positive attitude," said Missouri Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe. "I'm amazed at his desire to return to work so quickly, and I'm proud to have him on our team.”
The majority of the 31,000 Missourians in our 21 facilities are eager to cooperate with staff and to address the problems that led to incarceration so they can return to their families and successfully reenter the community. However, some offenders in state prisons have a history of impulsive and violent behaviors and continue to exhibit those behaviors during incarceration. Like other public safety professionals in fields such as law enforcement, the military, mental health and emergency medicine, corrections officers sometimes are hurt by the people they’re trying to help. Our staff are trained to anticipate and de-escalate dangerous situations whenever possible and to respond immediately and professionally when incidents occur. We are fortunate that the officers on duty when this incident happened were able to intervene quickly and gain control of the situation.
The department has not experienced a significant change in the number of serious assaults on staff occurring in Missouri state prisons in recent years. Missouri’s rate of staff assaults is below average when compared to the rates of fellow members of the Southern Legislative Conference. The most recent report from SLC contains assault data on page 37:
The number of serious assaults on staff dropped between 2016 and 2017. We don’t yet have all the data from 2018, but so far the monthly average number of serious assaults on staff for calendar year 2018 is comparable to that of 2017 and lower than that of 2016.
The department is working hard on initiatives aimed at boosting workplace safety, decreasing the prison population, and retaining employees. Currently our staff numbers our rising, our offender numbers are dropping, and new training programs are underway. We are grateful for the hard work our staff do every day, confronting dangerous situations in their courageous endeavors to make Missouri safer.