Delaware Renames Road After Fallen Correctional Officer - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Renames Road After Fallen Correctional Officer

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SMYRNA, Del. --- Delaware's Department of Correction on Tuesday unveiled a new street sign along the road leading to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, honoring an officer killed during a 2017 inmate uprising at the prison.

A service road off Paddock Road near Smyrna was renamed after Lt. Steven Floyd, a veteran correctional officer who died during a standoff after inmates seized control of the building he was working in and took hostages.

Delaware Correctional Commissioner Perry Phelps said renaming the road was a fitting tribute to a dedicated correctional officer. The sign was revealed during a sometimes emotional ceremony attended by correctional officers and administrators, state lawmakers, and Floyd's family.

"Every time they pass by, every time they use this lane to go to the facility, they'll remember Lt. Floyd and who he was and what he did here," he said.

The ceremony took place more than two years after the Feb. 1, 2017 riot, which touched off a massive amount of scrutiny on the Delaware Department of Correction and staffing levels in Delaware prisons.

A state report noted that staffing shortages and forced overtime to ensure staffing levels would be adequate in Delaware prisons were issues found at Vaughn prior to the riot.

Phelps said the agency is attempting more aggressively to recruit more officers and noted COs' salaries had been hiked to $43,000 just last year.

"We can always do things better, and that's what we strive to do each and every day is to make things a little bit better than it was yesterday, and that's what we're hoping to accomplish," he said.

But Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, said the forced overtime remains a major issue that affects the morale and performance of officers each day.

"We're not where we need to be by a long stretch," he said.

Klopp said the current level of starting salaries is unacceptable and noted many smaller police agencies in Delaware and neighboring counties or states offer better compensation and benefits.

When it comes to an impasse over potentially negotiating higher salaries, Klopp said the state has been uncooperative and pointed toward Gov. John Carney's administration.

"It's not on our side, I can tell you that," he said.

Carney said in an interview that his administration was behind the pay hike that brought officers' salaries to their current levels. He dismissed criticisms from Klopp and also noted his budgets have directed millions toward improving safety with new training for prison staffers and a camera system at Vaughn.

"That's always Geoff Klopp's job --- to say it's never enough," he said. "He represents each and every one of those (correctional officers)."

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