Correctional workers honored for service

Balto. County recognizes more than 30 employees at second annual event

January 12, 2004|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Saying that jail staff are often overshadowed by their law enforcement colleagues in the police and fire departments, Baltimore County officials recognized more than 30 correctional employees last week, including four who helped extinguish a fire in August at the Women's Detention Center.

Correctional Officers William T. Brooks Jr., Thomas M. Mannion Jr., Mamie R. Marshall and Lt. Brian J. Matricciani worked together to put out the fire that began at 2 a.m. Aug. 16 outside the Towsontown Boulevard Facility, where 300 female and work-release inmates are housed.

At one point the flames were shooting up near the second floor, said Brooks, a 15-year veteran of the jail. Armed with an extinguisher, Brooks doused the flames, which appeared to be coming from a pile of rubber mats between the women's and work-release units.

"I wasn't scared, exactly. The adrenaline was pumping," Brooks said. "We're still not sure how it started."

Bureau of Corrections Administrator James P. O'Neill said the officers prevented a tragedy.

"It's tough to pick one group of employees from all the people who go above and beyond 365 days of the year," O'Neill said at the ceremony Friday at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.

Others who received awards for their service included field training officers, United Way coordinators and two lieutenants who have not missed a day of work in more than a decade. Lt. John E. Ripley hadn't used a sick day in 12 years. Lt. Wayne D. Harbin hadn't missed a day in 20 years.

County Administrative Officer Anthony G. Marchione delivered the keynote speech on behalf of County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who missed the second annual ceremony because he was sick.

"It's important for us to recognize the job you do each day to keep us all safe," Marchione told the employees and their families.

The bureau's newly formed Honor Guard made its first public appearance at the ceremony after three months of training led by Maryland National Guard Sgt. Brian McNabb.

"The concept of this ceremony is great," said Jeff Magness, president of the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees, the union that represents staff at the two detention centers. "Corrections isn't always in the public eye. It seems to take a back seat to police and fire in law enforcement. ... People don't realize how important these people are. The staff at these facilities is constantly in danger."

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