“Life of a Corrections Officer – The Family Plays a Big Role”

(written for an English class back in 2004)

© Cydni Ambrosio

Being given the opportunity to be part of an elite unit in Law Enforcement is a proud moment for an officer. They take that step from being a line officer to becoming a part of “The Team.” Their family also takes that step.

Being the spouse of a Tactical Support Unit Officer in a correctional facility brings with it a sense of pride as well as an ever-present sense of caution. Our husbands and wives are called in to handle the worst of the worst. Riots, fights, inmate assaults; and all within the confines of a prison’s walls.

Not only are the lives of the officers at risk, but at times those of their families are as well. Inmates go to great lengths to obtain information about the families of officers. Various methods are used; such as having friends and family search public databases on the internet for divorce or marriage records, and for property records to find home addresses. Inmates also get information just by overhearing conversations between officers. This information is reported back to them by other inmates, through letters, by family visits, and through code in phone calls.

Because of this many spouses decide to take a proactive approach in preparing themselves for the dedicated role they take on. Self-defense classes and concealed weapons classes go hand-in-hand with preparing lunches and uniforms. Preparing mentally and emotionally is also a part of the process.

My husband has been in Corrections for over a decade and has held many positions on his team. Breacher, Lead Firearms Instructor, Tactics and Use of Force Instructor, Tactical Operations Commander, Chemical Munitions/Impact Munitions Instructor and Leader of the Hostage Rescue Team.

With all of these positions come different responsibilities, challenges and stress. His team depends on him while at work and that is ever-present on his mind. It comes home with him; it is a part of him.

Understanding is essential at home. You can’t take things personally no matter how your spouse walks through that door. You have to remember that your love and support is vital to these amazing men and women and for them coming home safe at the end of every shift. As their support system we need to stay up to date on call-out procedures, phone numbers, training schedules and most of all understand that things can change at a moment’s notice.

I remember a night when my husband and I were eating at Applebee’s with our kids and he was called out. We had already ordered and had just gotten our food, when his pager went off. I knew the drill by then and was prepared.

We always took separate cars when he was on call “just in case.” It’s part of the life, the pager beeps and he has to go. So we kissed goodbye, said “I love you” and he was off. The kids and I finished our food, paid our bill and made sure to put his food in the fridge when we got home.

Through all the ups and downs a TSU unit goes through at the end of the day there is always the reward of an extended family. The bonds that are formed within the team extend to the spouses and children. We all become part of an inner circle. Once formed it cannot be broken. When someone is in need we are there. When there is joy we all feel it. The pride is not only felt in the work but also in the hearts and souls of the family.

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