Senate Prez: Prison Guards, Police Are Different

March 31, 2011

Responding Wednesday to a question about how privatization of prisons might be perceived, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said most people believe there is a difference between cops on the street and corrections officers in prisons – and that many newer prisons don’t need as many guards.

The Senate has suggested privatizing much of Florida’s prison system, potentially saving $70 million.

“A prison guard is doing a very important job, but is not a police officer,” said Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, adding he would rather make cuts in areas like prisons than education.

Asked by a reporter whether he meant that corrections officers weren’t law enforcement officers, Haridopolos clarified: “Prison guards are law enforcement,” he said. “They both serve the public very well.”

Police Benevolent Assocation lobbyist Jim Baiardi said later that corrections officers go through similar training as police. “Prison guards have to deal with convicted felons, and people on Death Row,” Baiardi said.

Editor’s Note: This updates an earlier story by The News Service of Florida. The News Service issued the following statement: “Officials in Haridopolos’ office say we mischaracterized what he said. This brief updates and clarifies the earlier brief to report more of what Haridopolos said to add context so the reader can better decide what he meant.”

By The News Service of Florida


31 Responses to “Senate Prez: Prison Guards, Police Are Different”

  1. Klondike Kid on April 3rd, 2011 6:16 pm

    The esteemed Senator needs to spend a couple of work days at a prison (not jail) and he could see what these jobs entail. He obviously thinks a mall security guard could handle these inmates for peanuts. I think he’d change his mind at best or run away crying at worse (“Mommy, those inmates cursed at me !”).

  2. former republican on April 2nd, 2011 8:16 am

    Police officers at least run into law abiding citizens from time to time, Everyone a C.O. runs into are criminals, I say we all change our registration to Democrat

  3. Former republican on April 2nd, 2011 8:12 am

    Another thing that Haridopolpous should be reminded of is that police officers do run into law abiding people here and there. Everyone a Correctional Officer runs into are criminals.

  4. MKC on April 2nd, 2011 8:06 am

    Shame on the Senate President! How can this man say something like this. Colonel Greg Malloy was murdered in the line of duty protecting Floridians, Officer D. Fitzgerald murdered in the line of duty protecting Floridians, Officer D. Lathrem murdered in the line of duty protecting Floridians. All of them were correctional officers for the Florida Department of Corrections. This is just a few. The statement shows the ignorance of our lawmakers. They are actually making laws concerning public safety and have no idea of what the safekeepers do to accomplish that. Privatization is a threat to your safety. The private prisons do not control the facilities they have, the inmates do. It is only a matter of time before one of them escape and kill an innoncent citizen. Look what happened in Arizona. Furthermore they do not save money. The most costly inmates to incarcerate our inmates with medical conditions, or mental health problems. The private prisons refuse to take any of those inmates. Their ability to show that they can operate cheaper than the state is nothing more than a light show. This all is Senate President Haridopolous, Senator Alexander, Senator Thrasher and Senator Costello’s service to special interest and not Florida. These guys are as guilty of being thieves as former Governor Bush’s ex-DC secretary Jimmy Crosby.

  5. dtb on April 1st, 2011 9:31 am

    The comments made by Mike Haridopolos are really demeaning to all of us; as Correctional Officers. I am a female who works inside the walls of a prison and deal with these ingrate convicts; who could careless if they hurt you or not. We only have a can of pepper spray to use along with our DT training to use as protection against these Drug Dealers, Street Thugs, and Child Molesters. And you think we are not needed!!!! I Would like to Offer you the Oppertunity to put on a Uniform and work in our shoes for a week or two just so you would have a clue as to what you are talking about. Then maybe you would not sound so IGNORANT when you talk about us CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS. And as for cutting cost START WITH YOUR OWN SALARY AND THEN CUT ALL OF YOUR BUDDIES PAY THEN THE STATE JUST MAY RECOVER. Then us as Correctional Officers could continue to Protect the Public and maybe get a Much needed Pay raise.

  6. William on April 1st, 2011 8:35 am

    >>.Now the title of the article has changed! This is not the same article that appeared a few days ago. I’m so glad to see journalistic integrity is alive and well.

    Again, the comment from below:

    This newspaper pays The News Service of Florida to cover Tallahassee news for us. They covered the press event, and they admitted to making a mistake in their story. We ran their corrected story. was not at the press event at Tallahassee directly. I can’t tell you what he said, other than relying upon the news service report.

    We rely on the NSF, and had to rely on the correction of their story.

  7. Sayjack on April 1st, 2011 8:34 am

    Now the title of the article has changed! This is not the same article that appeared a few days ago. I’m so glad to see journalistic integrity is alive and well.

  8. Sarah on April 1st, 2011 12:15 am

    That he should make this statement less than 2 months after Colonel Malloy was murdered in the line of duty while doing law enforcement work in assisting another agency track a murder suspect is insulting and demeaning to all of law enforcement. Mr. Haridopolos obviously has no knowledge of the difference between correctional officers and security guards. That the senate president is ignorant of that correctional officers are sworn law enforcement is frightening Mr. Haridopolos should spend a day in one of the institutions in which his district covers and maybe he would be enlightened to the real behavior of the offenders that this government plans to turn over to the private companies for their profit. The Florida Senate has reached a new low if they do not start seriously start to consider the danger for the community their decsions will result in once these changes are put into place.

  9. PM on March 31st, 2011 11:03 pm

    This is a nice change since the first thing this man said was that Prison Guards are not Law enforcement and are mor like a home security system. I would dare him or anyone up in the senate to come and put on a uniform and deal with known convicted felons and murders that dont care about your saftey only what they can get out of it. And nice job by the newspaper changing the story for the man rather then saying what he first stated then showing how he tried to change it to make himself look better cause he knows what he said was wrong by florida law we are considered law enforcement.

  10. strkat5 on March 31st, 2011 9:52 pm

    I would love for you to come to one of the Prisons, and see if you can make it! Correctional OFFICERS, ARE IN FACT OFFICERS! We keep them in, so they aren’t a harm to the public. Any Correction OFFICER would gladly risk our life for another! You Mr. Prez , need to open your eyes! We risk our life on a daily basis, and go through the same training as street officers! We are face to face with the convicted, and they have more rights then we do as officers!

  11. co 1 on March 31st, 2011 9:30 pm

    I’ve been a correctional officer and single mother for the last 6 years and this is the thank you I get for risking my life, missing my son’s first everything’s, holiday sand working when I’m sick?!?! A slap in the face to not only me, but the other 52000 state officers who make sure 102000 inmates stay behind the fences of the state of florida. Working with equipment, I’m lucky if it works? Well dear sir you are a scared politician who would never wear my uniform for two weeks, make my pay, look inmates in the eye or worry if I will be able to make my bills because for assistance, I MAKE TOO MUCH! thank you government officals in office who won’t take a pay cut, and instead squeezing it out of the men and women who do their jobs without a so much of a thank you!

  12. STATE CORRECTIONS @ CHACI on March 31st, 2011 7:23 pm

    Dear Sir,
    Obviously you have never toured a STATE Facility. Let alone one that houses Close Management Prisoners. I have numerous associates that either work for County or Local Police agencies. They all tell me that me and my fellow STATE CORRECTIONAL brothers and sisters have the TOUGHEST job going and would not do it for anything. I also assume that when you say PRISON GUARDS don’t have a job as difficult as a Police Officers that your also talking about the numerous brothers and sisters that work as COUNTY CORRECTIONS Officers. I guess they don’t have a tough job either. You are very uneducated as to what your commenting about because we are equally working in THE TOUGHEST jobs. The number one problem in the state of FLORIDA is that you do not see STATE CORRECTIONS as equals as their County counter parts…but if you speak with most other STATES they are all respected and seen as LAW ENFORCEMENT across the board.

  13. inTHeKnow on March 31st, 2011 6:41 pm

    To the person who said “…they will also drop the background checks, testing, and intense training for these jobs. To make it easy for their corporate buddies to hire…” You are wrong. All private prisons in the state of Florida hire officers that are trained in the same facilities that state officers are trained in. In fact, the many classes have both attending side by side. Private Officers must keep their certifications current by attended continuing education and in-service training though out the year, just like state officers. ALL workers at a private facility must pass an FLDE and NCIC background check just as state officers do. The only difference between a state officer and a private employed officer is where there checks come from and the uniform they wear.

  14. Bunk on March 31st, 2011 6:19 pm

    This state website will tell you the salaries of all state employees:

    Florida Correctional Officers, not prison guards, sure do put your lives on the line for such little pay! How do feed your families? Just wondering….

  15. William on March 31st, 2011 5:40 pm

    >>>I am amazed at what I see here. This is NOT the same story that ran earlier. This newspaper has obviously bowed to political pressure and taken out the verbatim statements made by the Senator. I feel like I am living in China now. What happened to freedom of the press? What about Free Speech. I guess Haridopolos doesn’t believe in those either………

    You are very wrong. This newspaper pays The News Service of Florida to cover Tallahassee news for us. They covered the press event, and they admitted to making a mistake in their story. We ran their corrected story. was not at the press event at Tallahassee directly. I can’t tell you what he said, other than relying upon the news service report.

    We rely on the NSF, and had to rely on the correction of their story.

  16. Scott BCI on March 31st, 2011 5:36 pm

    I am amazed at what I see here. This is NOT the same story that ran earlier. This newspaper has obviously bowed to political pressure and taken out the verbatim statements made by the Senator. I feel like I am living in China now. What happened to freedom of the press? What about Free Speech. I guess Haridopolos doesn’t believe in those either………

  17. Steven on March 31st, 2011 4:34 pm

    Mr. Haridopolos, you said that, “you don’t consider prison guards to be law enforcement” and that “there is a big difference between police officers and prison guards” and then you went so far as to compare correctional officers to a ‘home security system’. I would like to know just what experience you have in either of these fields that could justify any of your comments? I have worked on both sides of the fence, 5 years with a Sherrifs office and 13 years with the Fl. Dept. of Corrections.
    Correctional officers are around sentenced felons 8 hours a day, 260 days per year. Where as police officers may confront a felony convict once every three shifts. And they are with them for a short time and then they turn them over to who? You guessed it, a corrections deputy or officer.
    I openly challenge you Mr. Haridopolos to walk through the Psych ward of Union C.I. in an officers attire through the cutters, slingers and spitters where shanks are readily available, where at least 60% of the inmates either have aids or hep C with nothing to loose from assaulting an officer. All we are given to protect ourselves with is maybe a can of gas. At least police officers have a gun, gas, baton and even a taser. DOC hasn’t gotten a raise in over 5 years and you want to cut more. We have had enough cuts. I bet you haven’t missed a pay raise Mr. Haridopolos. Hey is that an American name? Just wondered.
    I base my statements on 18 years of serving with some of the finest members of both teams who are not only equally trained but also equally concerned about the safety and well being of all people in this state. You should think outside the box Mr. Haridopolos, the box being yourself. Oh and I am also a retired Veteran, so I have served for the right to say what I have said here. You have a nice day sir.

  18. TonyBCI on March 31st, 2011 3:58 pm

    Maybe the state should take a look at where all the waste is really taking place. Lets take the top 15%, the highest paid 15% of “public Servants”, (state employees), senators, directors, chairman, buddies, and back-scratchers and reduce their pay to a set number, maybe a measly $63,000 (double my correctional officer pay by the way), and maybe, just maybe charge them for their health insurance just like me, because right now they pay $0.00 (nothing) and that continues for the rest of their lives…(by the way); and maybe we, the state of Florida could save a little money for our kids(Educators) and the people who keep us all safe from rapist, murderers, pedophiles, all of them

    Go out and thank a Correctional Officer, Deputy, Police Officer, EMT, Fire Fighter, a Teacher. Stand up for our rights and what our taxes were meant to support.
    Not some Fat cat politician who wears suits, who’s assistants have assistants making more money than me.

    Please don’t forget these times and remember when vote season comes around. Do your duty and do whats right. I for one am tired of having my pocket picked, my families health care trivialized, my retirement compromised. The Gov. Rick Scott and his cronies may be coming to a town near you :( .

    Be afraid, be very afraid..

  19. PR on March 31st, 2011 3:46 pm

    I may not be a Police Officer as he has said, but I am a Correctional Officer who has had to take many of the same classes as a Police Officer. Many Police Officer start by becoming Correctional Offcers then take a few additional classes and become Police Officers. I doubt that he would even suceed as a Correctional Officer for one day in a Maximum Security Prison. I think that cuts should begin with Members of the Senate who have no clue. Beginning with Senate President Mike Haridopolos. Thanks Senator for keep out state safe.

  20. El Duque on March 31st, 2011 1:57 pm

    To all CO’s: “Thank you” for putting up with all the crap that you have to deal with daily. “Thank you” for dealing with the violent people that you have to deal with and we don’t. I do not agree with this idiots comments.

  21. cmh on March 31st, 2011 1:29 pm

    When the GOP privatizes State and Federal prisons across this nation…they will also drop the background checks, testing, and intense training for these jobs. To make it easy for their corporate buddies to hire….the cashier at local fast food chain at minimum wage….to be the “new and improved” prison guard.
    The latest assault and attacks on teachers and unions…will not stop there. Prison guards, firemen, and police are next. All Gov. jobs will be privatized and non union. Then, they will set their sights on all private workers. The GOP has already said it wants to abolish Federal minimum wage…that is a FACT. And corporations across the U.S. will drop wages together. Who will you go to for help then….A union??? They will be gone by then! The first step in the GOP plan is they must eliminate unions….to help Ameri-Corp take over our Democracy.

  22. Shirt on March 31st, 2011 12:46 pm

    Guards vs law enforcement… Law Enforcement officials make contact with numerous people each day; a small % are criminals. Prison “guards” make contact with hundreds of people each day; 100% are criminals. You can not intelligently compare and contrast the two when it comes to pay and benefits. Next time we prepare for a cell extraction, break up a fight or defend ourself from a CRIMINAL with a “shank”, lets call the Senate PREZ and have him walk with us. NO LOAD TO HEAVY!!!

  23. One Voice on March 31st, 2011 12:26 pm

    It appears Senator Mike Haridopolos or his aids did not do their home work on this one. All Florida Correctional Officers are (FDLE, Florida Department of Law Enforcement) certified. If the Senator feels Correctional Officer are not that important and do not provide a service just as equal to a Police Officer, then why don’t they pass Laws to give citations for serious crimes and send the violator home, quit sending them to prison. If cutting the budget is the Senator’s motivation for his comment. Then I offer this suggestion to the Senator. Start the budget cuts at the State Capital (lead by example). Get rip of the government supplied fancy office space, all aids (just a secretary), transportatioin(drive your own POV), no expense account (set salary only), retirement as other State Employees. Police Officers have said to me, they don’t know how Correctional Officers do what they do surrounded by seven to eight hundred criminals, with the limited amount of protection they are allowed to have on their person. I think the public will disagree with the Senator’s comment about Correctional Officers are not that imporatnt.

  24. LP on March 31st, 2011 12:04 pm

    Once again “we the people” have put a non educated individual into office – how insulting are these words – to each and everyone of us who work inside the fences – to every family member who has lost someone due to working inside these fences I am sorry for this man’s ignorance. For this man lack of knowledge to the challenges of our job. Do not be upset, angry or hurt by the words of Mike Haridopolos – he is half the man/woman we are!!!!!

  25. Lea on March 31st, 2011 10:58 am

    Correctional Officers are NOT Law Enforcement? Are you serious ? So you can distinguish the difference because you have actually held both positions correct? How dare you sit in your soft comfy safe office and decide that what Our CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS do can only be compared to to a home security system..I’m sure I am not alone when I ask that before you decide how unimportant their services really are you actually go inside a prision and spend 8 hours doing what our men and women do on a daily basis..They risk their lives inside walls with the most harden criminals with only their wits and self defense tactics to protect them..First, you want to take food out of their children’s mouth because you deem them common security guards with your “shallow head in the sand” views ,And to add insult to injury you take it upon yourself to belittle their worth in a public forum? Wow ,IGNORANCE TRULY IS BLISS isn’t it ?

  26. Jonny on March 31st, 2011 10:21 am

    So what he is saying is that if an inmate escapes over the fence GUARDS do not have the legal power to stop them? We take a oath just like the police officer, have to train just like the police officer. We interact with the worse people the state see fit not to be in the public.
    These people violate in the free world.. what makes them think they stop doing that when they go to prison..

    Senate Prez you have no idea what goes on in the prison system.. when you do go tour a prison they show you what they want you to see. You will see what happens with all the privatized prisons.. law suite heaven for the inmates that the state will be paying out. The laws protect inmates..the laws say what you have to do for them..they have better rights than a free man.

  27. W. Rummel on March 31st, 2011 9:30 am

    I’m so glad that Mr. Haridopolos has clarified the distinction between the two. For a while there, I almost thought that Col. Malloy was functioning as a law inforcement officer. If this Bozo’s brain had anything to do with what came out of his mouth, we’re all in a lot of trouble.

  28. Cat on March 31st, 2011 9:13 am

    DITTO!! DG they are clueless!!!

  29. DG on March 31st, 2011 7:31 am

    I really hate stupid people and these are the people who run things in this state

  30. co on March 31st, 2011 6:35 am

    correctional officers have taken the criminal justice classes just like law enforcement would take. this man has no idea what he is talking about. we are put in dangereous situations every day..with a can of pepper spray as the only deffensive weapon on us. to be around convicted felons, most who have no chance of ever getting out, who have nothing to lose is no laughing matter. mr haridopolos your invited to come and work for a few days and see what ya think….

  31. eab on March 31st, 2011 12:44 am

    A prison guard equates to a security system?

    Well, this goes along with what we are hearing out of the legislature these days. Complete nonsense. Say…let’s let Haridopolos spend the night on the dorm. He’ll be singing a different tune (with a higher pitch) in the morning.

    I agree that we should cut prisons before education. We can do so. not by stacking inmates on top of one another but by releasing people who are in for bogus crimes such as marijuana possession or manufacturing. Cut the number of people in for knick knack stuff.

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