Hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the state will gather Tuesday to honor the life of Joe Parise, the second Minnesota corrections officer to die in the line of duty in just two months.
Parise, 37, died of an unknown medical emergency Monday after rushing to rescue a fellow officer under attack. He sprinted across Oak Park Heights maximum-security prison to help restrain an inmate, who reportedly punched an officer 15 times in the face.
Soon after returning to his post he collapsed, and he later died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
His union brothers and sisters pronounced his actions heroic. “That was just like him,” said Tim Henderson of AFSCME Council 5.
Parise, of Forest Lake, will receive a full line-of-duty funeral procession and honors Tuesday. The 11 a.m. service at Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel will be followed by interment at Fairview Cemetery in Stillwater.
Gov. Mark Dayton ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in his honor.
Parise’s death is the latest tragedy in a string of violent assaults on corrections staff that has renewed calls for increased staffing and security inside Minnesota’s prisons. Joseph Gomm, 45, a corrections officer from Blaine, was killed in July by an inmate serving time for homicide at the Stillwater facility.
Last year, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) said it requested state funding for 187 additional corrections officer positions to bolster security around the state.
“Unfortunately, the Legislature approved only 15 of those positions,” said DOC spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald.
Many believe that will finally change this year.
Rep. Brian Johnson, chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, said both parties are committed to making sure officers are safe on the job.
“The recent increase in violence against corrections officers is deeply troubling,” said Johnson, R-Cambridge. “We are in the process of scheduling committee hearings for the coming weeks to address this problem, and we intend to work closely with the Department of Corrections to prevent future tragedies and ensure the safety of our state’s corrections officers.”
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office has performed an autopsy on Parise but has not released his cause of death.
The Navy veteran leaves behind a pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter.