Florida’s fallen correctional officers honored by state

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Fallen correctional officers were honored Wednesday morning by the new Florida Department of Corrections Secretary.

A total of 52 Florida correctional officers have died in the line of duty. Their sacrifices are remembered each year at the Fallen Officer Memorial. (WJHG)

One of the officers who lost their lives in 2018 died supervising inmates, while another died helping after Hurricane Michael.

Correctional Officers put their lives on the line every day, often dealing with the worst society has to offer.

“They have rightly earned our love and respect and for this, we honor their memory,” Chaplain Johnny Frambo said.

A total of 52 Florida correctional officers have died in the line of duty. Their sacrifices are remembered each year at the Fallen Officer Memorial. The name of each officer was read aloud.

In 2018, two correctional officers lost their lives while serving.

“A man and woman of courage,” FDOC Secretary Mark Inch said.

Tawanna Marin was struck by a vehicle while supervising a work crew. Sergeant Derrick Dunn suffered a heart attack while volunteering in the panhandle following Hurricane Michael.

“He knew they needed help. He probably was the first one to step up,” Dunn’s cousin, Conchita Baldwin, said.

Sergeant Dunn’s family said he died doing what he loved.

“I don't think that he would have wanted to go any other way other than being in the line of service,” said LaDawn Baldwin, also Dunn’s cousin. "Didn't matter where it was at because he was that person all around.”

Officer Marin and Sergeant Dunn’s names are engraved on the Fallen Officer Memorial at the Wakulla Correctional Institution.

The FDOC is in desperate need of more officers like Dunn and Marin. Statewide, there are nearly 2,000 vacancies.

“I am awed by the number of individuals who step forward and dedicate their life literally in service to our state and our nation,” said Inch.

To help address the shortage, the Legislature passed a bill to lower the age to become an officer from 19 to 18. It’s awaiting the Governor’s signature.