In Memory of Sergeant Robert Wayne Rogers
Florida Sergeant Dies from COVID
The Florida Department of Corrections was saddened to announce the loss of one of their law enforcement officers to the coronavirus. Many law enforcement officers have been lost to COVID19 due to their jobs and contact with the public. The number of corrections officers lost during the pandemic has been staggering.
On Friday, July 31, 2020, Sergeant Robert Wayne Rogers, age 65, died from complications of COVID19. He is the first corrections officer with the Florida Department of Corrections to die from the virus. The Rogers family was hit very hard with tragedy. Sgt. Rogers’ wife of 30 years, Laura Wood Rogers, contracted the virus from him. Both were receiving treatment for their conditions at Southeast Health in Dothan, Alabama. They died within an hour of each other.
It was determined that Sgt. Rogers likely contracted the virus while on duty at the Graceville Work Camp. He had served his community through his work with the FDC for more than 29 years.
The FDC, like many prisons and correctional facilities, has not been able to contain the virus. COVID19 has infected 8,551 inmates and 1,769 staff members. Fifty-three inmates have died.
Florida Department of Corrections
The Florida Department of Corrections is the third largest state prison system in the United States. The FDC operates 143 facilities statewide. These facilities include 43 major institutions, 33 work camps, 15 annexes, 20 work release centers, and six road or forestry camps.
The FDC employs more than 23,000 people. A full three-quarters of their employees are sworn officers. They serve and protect the entire state of Florida through their work in corrections.
The first prison in Florida opened in 1868. It was located in Chattahoochee, Florida. Since 1991, the rate of crime has been dropping significantly. Fewer prisoners mean a need for fewer facilities. Due to this, many facilities recently closed or are in the process of closing their doors. Sgt. Rogers had been assigned to the Graceville Work Camp.
Graceville Work Camp
Sgt. Rogers worked as a corrections officer at the Graceville Work Camp. Located in Jackson County, Florida, the Graceville Correctional Institution, formally known, holds up to 1,884 male inmates. It is a level V facility and holds all levels of inmates. They can range from minimum security to maximum security.
The facility provides work programs and educational programs. The inmates can get help if they choose counseling, family reunification programs, drug treatment, and sexual offender treatment. The Graceville Work Camp works towards the reintegration of inmates into society.
Sergeant Robert Wayne Rogers and his wife, Laura Wood Rogers, leave behind two daughters, a son, and five grandchildren. The impact of losing both parents has been devastating for the Rogers family. Many community members and law enforcement officers have been offering their support to the family during these challenging times.
Daughter Tiffany Davis spoke about losing her parents. “He was proud of being a sergeant. My mom had a heart of gold and was always laughing and smiling. My dad would do anything for anyone and was the hardest worker. They were the sweetest people and loved to ride their motorcycles.”
FDC Secretary Mark Finch shared how difficult it is to lose a colleague. “No amount of preparedness can alleviate the feelings that come with the news of losing a colleague. Sergeant Rogers committed his life to selfless service to the state of Florida as a correction professional, and we are deeply saddened by his passing.”