Farewell video: Prisons Chief Ken Tucker speaks of 'difficult year'
Prisons Chief Ken Tucker released a video message to say goodbye to friends and coworkers in state government. He also lamented what he called a "difficult year" for the state Department of Corrections, which suffered budget cuts and several prison closures.
Tucker's last day in the office as Department of Corrections secretary was Tuesday Nov. 14, but his last official day with the state will be Dec. 28. Gov. Rick Scott's office is searching for a replacement to lead the country's third largest prison system.
"I came in the door with a responsibility of immediately starting a legislative session resulting in us having to close a number of our institutions and work camps. And implementation of 12-hour shifts, implementation of other substantial budget cuts," he said. "And I can tell you this, none of that would have been possible without the commitment and the professionalism, and probably most importantly, the patience, of the members of the Department of Corrections."
Tucker strikes a somber tone in the farewell, saying he regrets his short time at the agency and feels disappointed he has to retire as the agency is struggling.
"All in all, over the past months, I've met many, many, many new friends," he said. "I've met people that I feel very confident will continue to carry this agency into the future and hopefully leave a leadership team in place, that will remain in place, that can be a part of leading this agency into the future during these difficult times."
Tucker, who is registered in the DROP retirement program, would have had to leave the position before next spring anyway. He has been in the job for about a year, and will be the eighth high-level agency head to depart under Scott.
The DOC has had six secretaries in six years.
See the video below.