MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO has learned some Stillwater corrections officers are quitting their jobs after the deadly attack of an officer.
Joe Gomm died Wednesday after an inmate beat him with a hammer inside the prison workshop. Some corrections officers told us top management ignored their mounting safety concerns.
WCCO sat down with one officer who told her he had no choice but to call it quits. The two words entered his mind just as soon as Joe Miller heard the news: That the corrections offer who trained him, Joe Gomm, was gone.
“I’m done,” Miller said.
“I had to quit for my own sanity,” he added.
Miller spent 13 years guarding some of Minnesota’s most dangerous criminals. He spent the last four as a sergeant. Miller walked away from a $60,000 a year salary, benefits and a pension without a plan B.
“The writing has been on the wall for the last year,” Miller said.
Miller, like many current and retired corrections officers, told WCCO they considered the inmate-to-staff ratio unsafe for some time.
Even seven years ago, when we profiled sudden violence at prisons, another officer shared this warning: “We keep getting more and more inmates to Stillwater and not enough corrections officer someone is going to get hurt or killed,” that officer told us back then.
Inside the workshop, where Gomm was attacked, we’re told one officer watched 37 inmates. At least a 10,000 square foot space, they say, with no security cameras.
“He was a brother in arms there and he’s dead and I blame the DOC and our administration,” Miller said.
Miller says he couldn’t take the panic attacks anymore, and that he felt liked he’d grown into a different person. At a job where he says he felt all too often like the prisoner.
“It messes with you,” he said.
A spokesperson with The Department of Corrections says between Stillwater and Oak Park Heights there have been a total of three resignations since Wednesday.
Officer Gomm’s funeral will be held Thursday, July 26 at North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills. As of Friday evening, a GoFundMe account has raised nearly $18,000 for his family so far.
Gomm’s family released this statement Friday:
The family of Joseph Gomm would like to express how devastated and deeply saddened we are by the senseless and tragic loss of our son, brother, brother-in-law, cousin and uncle who gave the ultimate sacrifice while in the line of duty. We wish to thank everyone for the overwhelming love, kindness and support during this incredibly difficult time. We would like to acknowledge the gracious outreach and support from Joe’s Corrections family, especially his colleagues at the Minnesota Correctional Facility Stillwater.
In addition, we are humbled by the offers to support our family and assist in planning Joe’s celebration of life by the Minnesota law enforcement community as well as the corrections and law enforcement community nation-wide. Special thanks to all those corrections family who have spent countless hours keeping vigil with Joe while we prepare to celebrate his life. Our pain is indescribable, but we take comfort in knowing how many people loved Joe as much as we did and how many of his friends and colleagues share our devastation and grief. As we prepare to lay Joe to rest, we ask for privacy for our family.