The article, “Prison officials believe dereliction of duty set stage for Biendl’s death,” gives the impression that the men and women in blue bear the full responsibility for the tragic murder of Officer Jayme Biendl in the chapel of the Monroe Correctional Complex last year.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In an external investigation of the case, the Department of Labor &Industries cited the Department of Corrections for its failure to provide line staff with adequate training, a failure to enforce policies regarding post orders, and a failure to develop and implement policies designed to protect its employees. The L&I investigation exposed a culture of complacency and neglect on part of the DOC management with respect to its own policies and procedures.
The DOC failed to create a safe work environment for its employees, and inmate Byron Scherf was able to exploit the department’s negligence. Yet, instead of taking responsibility for its mistakes and holding the decision-makers accountable, the DOC is intent on implicating the men and women who risk their lives every day to keep the public safe. A more productive course of action would be to focus on putting real safety measures in place to protect all correctional employees.
Tracey A. Thompson
Teamsters Local Union 117