Stillwater officer's death reverberates through corrections community

Four years ago, when a corrections officer was killed in Nebraska, Hall County Corrections Assistant Director Craig Gottschalk wrote a poem about the dangers of the job.

He made a video and posted it on Facebook.

In it he says, “No outside soul can know or understand, what it’s like to walk a beat in the steel, this evil, this concrete land.”

The poem was called, “Code Green” which is the call that goes out when an officer needs help.

“They come running, souls in blue, black and brown, ready to fight, to cajole, to take evil down,” the poem continues. “Their brother, their sister, their shift mate cries, they promise each other that tonight, no one dies.”

The message of the poem resonated with corrections officers across the country. One in particular was so taken by it that he called Gottschalk to thank him. It was officer Joseph Gomm, who was killed by an inmate Wednesday at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater.

“He had reached out to me in that point in time,” said Gottschalk about his conversation with Gomm. “He read it and liked what it said.”

Gottschalk says they spoke for a few minutes and afterwards kept in touch, sharing the occasional text message about life working in corrections.

“In just the short communications we had, it sounded like he felt it was something he was meant to do,” Gottschalk said.

When Gottschalk heard the news of Officer Gomm’s death, he went to Facebook and reposted that video and dedicated it to his fallen colleague.

“Code green to officers is a recognized call, to step up, to brace against the fall,” he said.

Gottschalk never met Gomm in person, but he didn’t have to. They share a common bond. That’s why he wrote, “For you Gummy, we have your watch.”