Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Officer Purto: A View From the Line


 
OFFICER PURTO: A VIEW FROM THE LINE

NEW MEXICO DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

Officer Aaron Purto is a 25 year-old Corrections Officer. With sixteen months on the job, he is stationed at the “Level 6” facility at PNM (Penitentiary of New Mexico) in Santa Fe, which was recently renamed as the “Predatory Management” unit. It houses the most violent offenders.

“Some of the challenges of my job are dealing with daily threats from inmates…threatening me, threatening my family…anyone close to me. There are about 96 inmates per unit…you’re just one CO (Correctional Officer). Your partner gets pulled to another post just because we’re short. Having to deal with so many inmates by yourself is a challenge.”
Purto, when asked if he would still be working for NMCD in three years, candidly tells the truth. His answer is no. “I do plan on moving on in my career from this place if nothing changes. I’m under the same oath as Peace Officers from other states. My job is just as dangerous. I do the same thing as those in other correctional departments out of state who make twice what we make.”

I ask him what he would say to the legislative body if he got the chance. “I’d like to feel more appreciated as an officer and public servant by (receiving) a pay increase. I don’t see any sense in offering my services here when I can go elsewhere and offer those same services.”
Purto reveals that on Christmas Eve, the facility was understaffed to the point where the Corrections Emergency Response Team had to be deployed. He wonders “what the public would think if they knew.” Without the deployment of emergency staff, he states that “there would have been nobody here to supervise some of the most dangerous criminals in the entire nation. That’s an outrage.” PNM currently has an officers’ vacancy rate of 22%. View the video below.

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