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Nevada - Public Safety Congress Meets

High Honor Charles Caple acknowledges the cheers as he receives the Corrections Officer of the Year Award.

Charles Caple
High Honor Charles Caple acknowledges the cheers as he receives the Corrections Officer of the Year Award. (Photo credit: Tony Scodwell)

Las Vegas, Nevada

More than 500 law enforcement and corrections officers gathered in Las Vegas last November for the Public Safety Congress. The conference occurs every two years and provides attendees with an opportunity to discuss critical issues like prison overcrowding and use of force in law enforcement.

During the opening ceremonies, members gave a rousing ovation to the loved ones of fallen comrades who were in attendance: Dennis Morgan is the son of Wayne “Cotton” Morgan, a Tennessee corrections officer who was gunned down while escorting a shackled prisoner outside a courthouse in Kingston, Tenn. Peggy Vallandingham is the wife of CO Robert Vallandingham who was killed in 1993 during an 11-day prison riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. The crisis led to the founding of AFSCME Corrections United. Donna Aponte is the wife of New Haven, Conn., police officer Dario “Scott” Aponte who died in a car crash. Aponte’s co-worker and fellow member, Diane Gonzales, was involved in the same accident and remains in a coma.

Charles Caple, a 20-year veteran of the Corrigan Correction Institute and a member of Connecticut Council 4, received the Corrections Officer of the Year Award. He was injured in 2008 while saving his partner’s life during a brutal attack.

During his address to the members, President McEntee vowed to put the power of AFSCME behind the passage of the Public Safety Employee-Employer Cooperation Act—a measure currently pending in Congress that gives all public safety officers the right to form a union and bargain collectively. “With this bill, we’ll be able to organize even more,” he declared. “We will continue to fight until this act is law.”

Sec.-Treas. William Lucy assured the attendees that AFSCME will continue to “lead the way in getting you the tools you need, and the respect you deserve, for the most dangerous jobs in America.”

The three-day event featured plenary sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions on collective bargaining, health care reform and building the union.

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