The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Corrections Officer Reeshemah Taylor of the Osceola County (Fla.) Corrections Department as its Officer of the Month for February 2010.
Already serving three consecutive life sentences with no chance for parole and with another armed robbery trial looming, the inmate knew one thing: he was escaping and would take out anyone who got in his way. Armed with a 9mm handgun and dressed in a stolen correctional officer's uniform, the career criminal thought he was going to get away with his plan. Only one problem—he forgot to count on the courageous will and determination of Corrections Officer Reeshemah Taylor.
On June 22, 2009, Officer Reeshemah Taylor, a seven-year law enforcement veteran, began performing her duties as usual while assigned to the Osceola County Corrections Department Medical Unit. When one of her fellow officers did not answer to repeated attempts to contact him, Officer Taylor began looking for him. When she heard whispering coming from a cell she decided to check it out.
Unbeknownst to Officer Taylor, the inmate had pulled a gun on the missing officer while arriving at his cell after making a phone call. Holding the gun to the officer's head, the inmate demanded the officer's uniform and equipment while threatening to shoot him if he made any noise.
Officer Taylor entered the cell, and the inmate instantly placed the gun to her forehead. Instinctively Officer Taylor grabbed the inmate's hand holding the gun, diverting it from her head, and delivered a knee strike to the inmate's groin. The inmate fell to the ground, dislodging the gun from his hand. Officer Taylor immediately jumped on the inmate's back to keep him from regaining control of the weapon. She placed the inmate in a headlock and scissoring his lower body with her legs in order to keep the inmate on the floor and away from the gun. With her free hand she utilized her portable radio to call for backup and held the inmate until assistance arrived.
"Officer Taylor engaged an inmate that was far superior in size, strength, motivation, and intention. She successfully subdued this inmate through sheer determination, instincts, will and a courageous heart. Her efforts, in the face of imminent death, saved the lives of many," wrote Greg Futch, Chief of Corrections for the Osceola County Corrections Department. "By her undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Officer Taylor gallantly placed her life in danger, to prevent harm to others, thereby reflecting great credit upon her and upholding the highest traditions of Osceola County Corrections Department and the law enforcement community."
For her courageous actions that day, Officer Reeshemah Taylor has been awarded the Medal of Honor by the Osceola County Corrections Department and the Officer of the Year for 2009 by the Kissimmee Elks Lodge #1873. She has been nominated for Officer of the Year with the American Jail Association, American Correctional Association, and the Florida Sheriff's Association. Additionally, she was awarded the Congressional Distinguished Service Award issued by U.S. Representative Alan Grayson.
Located in the nation's capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Officer Taylor, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2010, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2011 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund's 2012 calendar.