Correctional Officer Darla Lathrem
Correctional Officer Darla Lathrem became the first female correctional officer in Florida history to be killed in the line of duty on June 11, 2003 when she was murdered during an escape attempt at Charlotte C.I. One of the five inmates she was supervising was also killed and another seriously injured. The escape was foiled and the three remaining inmates involved were moved to other DC facilities. Darla was 38 years old and is survived by her parents.
"Although words can never express our shock or alleviate the grief that comes from a tragedy like this, we sincerely extend our warmest, deepest, heartfelt sympathy to all of those who knew and loved Darla," said Secretary James V. Crosby, Jr. "Darla Lathrem was a bright, responsible, caring officer whose desire to help her co-workers was only overshadowed by her professionalism and character."
Darla had started working for the DC on April 19, 2002 as a trainee at Charlotte C.I., and she would have completed her probationary period on October 30, 2003. Darla, who was making $28,571 a year as a certified correctional officer, was also active in her church. "She was an excellent officer," according to Lt. R.J. Poccia, who worked with her at Charlotte C.I. "You never had to ask her twice to do anything. She was just a good, decent human being."
|CO Lathrem with family and friends|
More than 1,500 people attended Darla's funeral in Ft. Myers on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 at McGregor Baptist Church, at least half of them correctional officers. Employees from nearby DC facilities volunteered to cover for the officers at Charlotte C.I. so they could attend the funeral, and at least one officer from almost all DC facilities statewide came to represent their institutions.
Darla's 6-foot frame belied her shy, soft-spoken nature. When her supervisor, Sgt. Roderick Spears first met her, he said he thought she seemed more like a school teacher than a correctional officer. At her funeral, Spears said "She was a rookie. We watched her blossom into an awesome officer. We've got an angel watching over Charlotte now."
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