TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fallen correctional officers were honored Wednesday morning by the new Florida Department of Corrections secretary.
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.
“They have rightly earned our love and respect and for this we honor their memory,” said Chaplain Johnny Frambo.
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,” said FDOC Secretary Mark Inch.
Officer Tawanna Marin was struck by a vehicle while supervising a work crew.
Sgt. 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,” said Dunn’s cousin, Conchita Baldwin.
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.”
Marin's and Dunn’s names are engraved on the Fallen Officer Memorial at the Wakulla Correctional Institution.
The FDOC needs 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,” Inch said.
To help address the shortage, the Florida Legislature passed a bill to lower the age to become an officer from 19 to 18.
It’s awaiting the governor’s signature.