ABILENE, TEXAS - Corrections officers who have died in the line of duty were remembered in a memorial service at the French M. Robertson unit Wednesday.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 13 officers died in 2012 and a total of 69 officers died since 1882. During the memorial, the names of the 13 officers who died last year were read aloud as a bell rang for each of them.
The memorial service was rich with symbolism, including an empty table and a horse without a rider to signify the loss of each officer.
"It shows that person can no longer do those functions of being on a horse and watching the offenders do their work," Assistant Warden Charles Siringi said. "[The table], we can no longer share a meal or a conference with them because they're no longer there."
Siringi said he knew one of the officers who had recently passed away. Siringi met Agricultural Specialist Jason A. Prosser when he was the superintendent at the Ramsey Unit. He said he is thankful he had the opportunity to honor Prosser on Wednesday.
"He went to pick up the offenders that work on his crew and when he got in there--to the offenders housing--he had an immediate heart attack and he died instantly," Siringi said. "The offender workers apparently were the first people on site to see him have the distress and he died in the arms of the offenders before anybody else could come and help."
Everyone who attended the memorial was given a black and blue ribbon to wear.
"The blue represents the thin blue line separating our peace and freedoms from chaos and anarchy," Corrections Officer Daniel Rogers said. "The black represents our mourning at the death of an officer who died protecting [our] peace and freedoms."
Rogers said the memorial was a good reminder that working as a corrections officer can often be dangerous.
"I've been with the Texas department of criminal justice now for about five and a half years [I've] served with many coworkers over that time that have been injured in the line of duty and this is just a reminder of what could happen," Rogers said.
The following people died in 2012 and were recognized Wednesday: HR Specialist Phillip G. Hill, Counselor Lorraine M. Quinn, Agricultural Specialist Jason A. Prosser, Corporal Barbara Ester, Officer Tracy Hardin, Officer Britney Meux, Sgt. Ruben H. Thomas, Officer Ryan Tvelia, Officer William Wright, Officer Jeffery McCoy, Officer Timothy Betts, Sgt. Mary Ricard, and Officer Larry Stell.
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