Virginia – The law enforcement family is grieving yet again as we learn more details about the death of a 40-year-old correctional major, who authorities say died of a heart attack while on duty on January 23rd.
According to a confirmed report from the Officer Down Memorial Page, Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail (VPRJ) Correctional Major Angelanette Moore died after performing a prison shakedown.
VPRJ Superintendent Colonel Roy Witham released a statement to the press on the following day, noting that Major Moore had just completed a shakedown of the prison several hours before, and was meeting with inmates to discuss disciplinary action when she suffered the heart attack.
Her fellow co-workers as well as emergency medical staff immediately jumped in to attempt to save her life using CPR, but prison officials say the attempts were unsuccessful.
She was pronounced dead on January 23rd.
Col. Witham says the correctional major served the Virginia correctional facility for more than 20 years, and that he would not forget her dedication and hard work ethic.
“Words cannot properly express what Team VPRJ is feeling today,” Witham said in a statement. “We are all profoundly saddened by the untimely passing of Major Moore.”
“She genuinely enjoyed her work, and was committed to training and developing her junior Officers,” Col. Witham added. “Major Moore’s presence was that of a strict but always fair professional.”
He called for prayers during this difficult time.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with Major Moore’s family during this tragic time, and we will continue to provide them with assistance as they grieve her loss,” Col Witham said.
The national Fraternal Order of Police expressed their sorrow for Moore’s death on social media.
Blessed Are The Peacemakers
Major Angelanette Moore
Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, Virginia
— National FOP (@GLFOP) January 27, 2020
According to statements from prison officials, Moore leaves behind a son and a husband. They finished by saying she was “100% dedicated to her chosen career in corrections.”
The press release in full can be viewed below.
Our hearts go out to the friends, family, co-workers and others affected by this hero’s death. Rest in peace, Major Moore, your sacrifice will not be forgotten.
A note from our National Spokesman: Candidly, this is a challenge that we’ve faced at Law Enforcement Today. We know that in years past, we’ve made mistakes and released information that we thought loved ones were already aware of. We can’t begin to express our regret over it. It’s unacceptable.
As part of our partnership with Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), which is our charity of choice to help rebuild the shattered lives of those who have lost officers in the line of duty, we have pledged to fix this.
Law Enforcement Today will not release the names of fallen officers until the agency has publicly released them. That way we can be sure the family has first been notified. We hope other media outlets follow in our footsteps… and we would encourage our followers to do the same. We owe it to these families and our fallen to do better.
News outlets are all about the highest viewers and ratings, that’s just a fact. Whoever “breaks” a story first is considered the winner in whatever major event they’re reporting on.
Some outlets are unfortunately willing to stoop pretty low in order to gain those viewers and online “hits” for their stories. We saw an example of this last week with the crashing of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter.
TMZ, the celebrity news and gossip source, announced almost immediately that the helicopter was down, and that Bryant was on it. They also informed their audience that Bryant was deceased before anyone else, including police.
This gave no time for police to notify Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, who is also the mother of one of the casualties, 13-year old Gianna Bryant.
Imagine, if you will, sitting in your living room minding your own business.
Suddenly your phone starts ringing off the hook with friends and family members crying, “Is it true?” or “I’m so sorry about your husband!” or “Do you need anything? What can I do to help?”
You’ve got no idea what they’re talking about, so you turn on the news and see devastating and crushing reports about your family.
Alone, in your living room, you are watching a stranger reporting on TV that your husband and daughter are dead.
This is unacceptable. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva agrees, and said as much publicly.
“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one … perished and you learn about it from TMZ,” he said. “That is just wholly inappropriate.”
Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami posted about the incident on Twitter, saying:
“I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported that Kobe had passed. I understand getting the scoop but please allow us time to make personal notifications to their loved ones. It’s very cold to hear of the loss via media. Breaks my heart.”
I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported the Kobe had passed. I understand getting the scoop but please allow us time to make personal notifications to their loved ones. It’s very cold to hear of the loss via media Breaks my heart
— Undersheriff Tim Murakami (@LASDMurakami) January 26, 2020
Unfortunately, we as a law enforcement family also have a problem with notifications.
It’s not that anyone is maliciously trying to push information. For the most part, users who post things like concern or condolences mean well.
They feel the pain of the officer’s family and they want to do something, anything, to help. Posting on social media is the only way they know how, and really the only thing that can be done right away.
But that same situation above regarding the wife of the deceased in the living room? That has the potential to happen to our officers’ families and friends because of quick reporting on outlets such as social media.
That’s not ok.
Many in the law enforcement family know to hold off on posting condolences on social media until the department or family of the affected officer(s) has confirmed notification, but unfortunately, it’s not something that many others have even considered.
Organizations like Behind the Badge in Washington State include information like this in their trainings to other police organizations.
I attended one such training, led by Behind the Badge’s Program Services Director Gayle Frink-Schulz. Gayle reminded attendees of the hardship those premature condolences are placing on families who haven’t yet been notified properly by police.
I spoke to Gayle, who lost her husband, Washington State Trooper Steve Frink, to a line of duty death in March of 1993. Regarding family notifications, she said:
“I tend to try to throw it in all the time. I listened to what happened with Koby [Bryant] and my heart broke [for his family].”
Gayle’s late husband was taken from her at a time when social media, online news outlets, and even cell phones weren’t a big thing yet, so she never had to deal with that directly.
But after working with law enforcement families for 25 years, she has seen it affect families before.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” she said. “You may be needlessly causing pain in ways you can’t even imagine.”
“It’s not your information to share. There’s no room for speculation or needing to be first. You need to wait. If there’s something you do know in advance of others, privately send a message if you need to, but until the PIO gives official notification, which means the family has been notified already, be quiet.
“When training on line of duty deaths, we like to say people have this need to shake the hand of death. They want to be first one to get information out, and then it becomes more about them than about what’s happened.”
It’s tough love, but she’s not wrong. Gayle pointed out that while this is for the protection and honor of the officer’s family, it’s also for the other officers of that agency.
She recalled a time when her organization sent a response team out for a line of duty death. There were still officers in the field working the scene that had no idea that one of their own had lost his life. The agency needs the time to inform those brother and sister officers as well.
“It’s difficult to get in front of notifying,” Gayle said. “It’s a huge difference now from when I was notified. A totally different process now.”
A petition on Change.org has been started, calling for Fox Broadcasting Company and Time Warner to shut down the TMZ tabloid. The explanation of the petition says:
“TMZ has a history of harassing celebrities and crossing so many lines, but this time they went too far.”
More than 300 petitions have been started by basketball fans after the sudden death of Kobe Bryant.
— Change.org (@Change) January 28, 2020
The petition continues:
“Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a horrific helicopter crash, and TMZ LEAKED the news before the authorities were even able to notify the family. That means that Vanessa Bryant found out about the death of her husband and child through TMZ, tweets, or comments.
This is beyond not ok, and it’s time that Fox and Warner take away their platform. Sign the petition to get TMZ taken down once and for all!”
TMZ also prematurely reported on the deaths of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince.
The petition seeks to reach 300,000 signatures. At the time of this writing, it had obtained just under 201,000.