Letter: State employee asks for respect

I have been a state employee for 6 ½ years. For five years I was employed at the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute which provided psych and addiction treatment to hundreds yearly until it was closed by Gov. Terry Branstad. There I was assaulted four times; each time I was back to work the next day treating patients with respect as if nothing happened. I cried when I learned of the death of one of those patients that struck me. I broke confidence with a patient to report he was fantasizing about stealing guns and going on a shooting spree.

I am now a correctional officer. Department of Corrections staff work professionally under high stress with Iowa’s most dangerous. We are outnumbered by dozens armed with our temperament, a radio and maybe pepper spray. In July, I saw an officer old enough to be my father viciously beaten for trying to hold an offender accountable. We put ourselves at risk every day for the safety of the public, staff and offenders.

Many state employees work nearly every holiday away from their families. While you enjoyed the Super Bowl, I was searching an offender’s excrement for drugs. The sacrifices I’ve made for this state aren’t unlike those that thousands of others have done. Please understand police officers aren’t the only ones in high risk jobs. I simply ask for respect and a safe workplace.

I respectfully request that you contact your senators and representatives to demand they vote against collective bargaining “reform.”

Ryan Slemmer

New London

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