6 training standards correctional officers would like to see more of
When it comes to safety, there can never be enough training; here are six types that our readers want to see more of in their correctional facilities
By C1 Staff
Training; if there’s one thing correctional officers can never get enough of, it’s training. But we don’t just mean hand to hand combat or defense. There are many types of training, from the physical to the mental, and we think correctional officers need to be well rounded in order to perform their job to the best of their ability.
We took to Facebook to see what kind of training our readers thought they needed more of. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular responses.
Ground/grappling: Whether it’s an offender coming at you, or you needing to restrain an inmate, you may end up on the ground more often than not. Thus officers need the right tools and know-how when it comes to handling a fight that’s no longer upright.
“Due to being a female in an all-male prison, I would say better preparation on taking down men twice your size,” Sam Higbee wrote. “I’ve practiced some techniques on my boyfriend and he just threw me.”
Check out these videos for some insight into ground defense and grappling; add your own advice in the comments.
Verbal judo: Why fight when you can de-escalate the event before it comes to physical blows? Verbal judo, created by the late Dr. George Thompson, is designed to help officers use their voices and find common ground between themselves and inmates.
“There is only so much we can do physically,” Jacob Sicola wrote. “Our greatest weapon is our voice. Most COs aren’t tough enough to square off one on one with an inmate, especially one of the young ones who’s in the best shape of their life.”
For more insight into verbal judo, check out Dr. Thompson’s column on the subject on Corrections1.
Mental fitness: Officers who work in prisons are subjected to the worst of society on a daily basis. Why don’t we have a better system in place to support our officers when they suffer from PTSD and other mental trauma?
Prisons should have counselors and other staff ready to help officers cope with the difficulties of dealing with offenders, which in turn will make them healthier people who can help offenders better rehabilitate.
Recognizing mentally ill inmates: As the country continues to recognize that prisons have become impromptu mental asylums, correctional officers should receive better training on how to tell the difference between a confrontational inmate and someone dealing with mental issues. This ability can be the difference between life and death for the inmate, and the success or failure of a career for a CO.
“I would like for CO’s to be trained to de-escalate a situation of that type,” Jason Nissan wrote. “Of course, if our country hadn’t shut down the mental hospitals and stigmatized mental illness, maybe this wouldn’t be such a huge problem.”
RELATED: Responding to mentally ill inmates
Fitness standards: As you’ve surely heard time and time again, your physical fitness has a huge impact on your safety. “Flabby officers are susceptible to getting injured en route to provide assistance, let alone providing assistance,” Jerald Wurst wrote. “Maybe annual PT tests, which, of course, there may already be in some institutions.”
Facilities can benefit themselves greatly by offering officers a gym discount.
“The state pays for a gym or gym equipment for the inmates; why not staff?” Gary Mayo writes. “Give staff a buck an hour raise if they use the gym three times a week.”
Likewise, a facility will also benefit from an officer’s health and should provide incentives for officers to eat healthy. Officers who are alert, in good shape and feeling well are better prepared for whatever might happen on a given shift.
For eating tips and work-out regimens, check out our fitness section.
CPR/Medical treatment: Sometimes medical can be a few moments behind; with officers already on scene, why not train them to perform CPR, or even the Heimlich? These simple techniques can easily be the different between a good and bad outcome when lives are at stake. They are not only applicable in incidents involving inmates, but also in attacks on officers. Readers suggested that officers be trained not only in mouth-to-mouth CPR but also in how to administer an AED.
For some quick tips on handling medical incidents when you don’t have a medical professional around, check out Lorry Schoenly’s ‘what to do until medical arrives’ columns.
Of course, these are only a small sampling of the types of training officers need when it comes to responding to the wide variety of events that can occur inside a correctional facility. What other types of training would you like to see officers receive, and better yet, how do you think officers can go about achieving these training sessions if budgets are tight? Are there ways facilities can work around their dollar limit? Sound off in the comments.