Officer Down: Officer Steve Burton, Polk Correctional Institution

DOC Family, 

This past weekend we lost one of our own.

Officer Steve Burton was on his way home when he was involved in an accident and passed away.

Please keep his family and his family at Polk CI in your thoughts and prayers.

Warden Rivero:Officer Burton (fondly nicknamed D.J. Red) had been a loyal employee since 4/2003. He will be fondly remembered by staff as one of the most positive people around.

Officer Burton worked on many different posts yet his demeanor was always the same. He was jovial and compassionate and at all times professional.

Even through these recent tough times, no one can think of a time when Officer Burton was mad or angry about anything. Officer Burton was a strong Christian man who volunteered his personal time to come to the Institution and provide bible study to the inmates.

He attributed his positive view of life to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of his demeanor and ability to handle stressful environments, he was often assigned as a confinement officer. He knew when to listen and when to be firm.

As far as anyone can remember, Officer Burton never had to raise his voice or write disciplinary reports, yet the job was always done, the inmates under control and doing what they should be doing. 

Officer Burton was an exceptional officer who’s shoes will be hard to fill.

Eduardo Rivero
Polk C.I.
10800 Evans Rd.
Polk City, Fl 33868

Lakeland Ledger: Officer Steven Burton Killed in Motorcycle Crash: Prison Officer Had Put His Faith to Work

By Matthew Pleasant

LAKELAND | If an inmate acts out at the Polk Correctional Institution, a state prison in Polk City, he lands in the confinement unit.

The prison within a prison is a hard assignment for detention officers, who must deliver meals to the unruly inmates, escort them to the showers and search cells for contraband.

But an officer killed in a motorcycle crash Sunday evening thrived in that harsh environment.

Steven Burton, 54, of Lakeland, who had a military background, carried out 12-hour shifts in the unit with grace, said Warden Eduardo Rivero. Supervisors assigned him to the unit, among other places in the prison, because they recognized his smiling, unflappable temperament.

That temperament was rooted in faith.

“He was taking orders from above,” Rivero said, “and you could tell.”

Burton was killed as he drove home from a shift.

When the weather was nice, he took his motorcycle to work. Sunday was no different.

About 6:30 p.m., Burton rode his 1995 Honda motorcycle south on State Road 33, approaching the Voyles Loop intersection, a Florida Highway Patrol report said.

A Dodge Dakota pickup driven by Paige Pirkle, 20, was headed in the opposite direction and stopped to make a left turn onto Voyles Loop, the FHP report says. According to the report, Pirkle didn’t notice Burton approaching and turned into his path, leading to the collision.

No charges had been filed in the crash Monday.

Burton’s death cast a somber mood over the Polk Correctional Institution staff Monday. Rivero said co-workers could count on his upbeat attitude despite his assignment to confinement, a job that can wear an officer down easily.

He approached the job differently than others, patiently listening to inmates’ concerns, Rivero said. Sometimes, all the men wanted was to be heard.

“The way to do it is to treat everyone with dignity and respect,” Rivero said. “And just listen.”

After joining the facility in 2005, Burton began teaching inmates a Christian education course with help from his wife, Janice, and another officer, said Abdul Al-Khatib, a prison chaplain. Burton volunteered on his days off or stayed after his shift to teach because he thought instructing inmates on the Bible would help them outside prison.

 “It spoke volumes that beyond fulling his work obligation, he had a concern for their souls,” Al-Khatib said.

The inmates didn’t mention the death to staff Monday, Rivero said, but some went out of their way to say good morning to staff, seemingly out of respect.

“I know they all know,” Rivero said.

Burton had three children, including his daughter, Tameesha Hudson. She remembered her father as a reserved person with a religious passion most wouldn’t expect.

“He just had a heart for people,” she said.



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