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Video review: Inmate attacks, drags corrections officer by her hair

It is important to condition yourself to think about ways to keep a reactionary gap between you and the inmates

CO attack by hair.JPG

Correctional officers run the risk of being blindsided by an inmate every day, which is why being a correctional officer is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. As correctional officers, we must always be aware of the dangers surrounding us.

In the video below, a correctional officer at the Berkeley County Detention Center in South Carolina is handing some paperwork to an inmate when she is attacked by another inmate who ends up on top of her and drags her by her hair.

After watching the video, let’s review some safety and training considerations.

Training Tips

Officers today are asked to do more with fewer resources. For this reason, correctional facility leaders must provide training for correctional officers to maintain physical fitness and situational awareness. Here are some things officers can do as individuals to help survive inmate attacks:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Never have a false sense of security.
  • Remember every inmate is a potential threat.
  • Condition yourself to think about ways to keep a reactionary gap between you and the inmates.
  • Use your peripheral vision to find and look at an approaching inmate. Sometimes looking directly at the inmate stops them from blindside attacks.
  • Ensure during mail pass or meal times that only one inmate at a time approaches and no other inmates are between you and the inmate you are dealing with.
  • If inmates interfere with what you are doing, you can stop what you are doing, back out and call for assistance.
  • Try your best to keep your hands up above your waist at all times for a faster response time to defend yourself.

Correctional officers working in overcrowded jails and prisons do not have the luxury of having a 21-foot reactionary gap so staying alert and physically fit is very important.

Physical Fitness

In corrections, we have mandatory overtime and then we still have our family time and home chores to fit into our schedule. This can make for some very long days and weeks. Understanding this we must make time for keeping our bodies strong. Can you fit in 20 minutes a day for your body? Here are a few ideas:

  • Daily stretching is great for your muscles and overall health of your body. It also decreases your risk of injuries. Try this when you first wake up or before going to bed.
  • Walk or run 20 minutes a day to improve your cardiovascular health. Not only do you burn fat, but you also build your lung capacity, something you will need to help survive inmate attacks.
  • Jump rope and lift weights to improve stamina and develop strength.

If you can fit it into your schedule I highly suggest self-defense classes. Any type of self-defense or martial arts training will help save your life.

Classification of Inmates

Assessing an inmate’s risk to safety and security is not an easy task. Classification officers rely on the information they have in front of them. Classification is an ongoing process throughout the inmate’s incarceration. Here are some things correctional officers can observe and report that can help classify inmates correctly:

  • Is an inmate showing physical or sexual violence toward others?
  • Is the inmate unwilling to cooperate with staff?
  • Is the inmate refusing to follow the rules of the jail or prison?
  • Does the inmate talk about suicide?
  • Does the inmate have medical issues?
  • Is the inmate an escape risk?

Never underestimate what an inmate can or will do. Report any unusual actions by an inmate. In doing so you not only give classification officers something to work with but you will probably save a fellow officer from injury or worse. Never ignore warning signs from inmates. Learn from experienced officers what signs to look for. You can build your own list of things to help better protect yourself and others. Stay safe and healthy.

Next video review: Jail riot response training

Gary York, author of “Corruption Behind Bars” and “Inside The Inner Circle,” served in the United States Army from 1978 to 1987 and was honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant from the Military Police Corps. U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Gary York completed the 7th Army Non-Commissioned Officers Leadership Academy with a 96.6% in the Train to Train method of instruction. Gary received the Army Commendation Medal and Soldier of the Quarter Award while serving. Gary was a Military Police shift supervisor for five years.

Gary then began a career with the Department of Corrections as a correctional officer. Gary was promoted to probation officer, senior probation officer and senior prison inspector where for the next 12 years he conducted criminal, civil and administrative investigations in many state prisons. Gary was also assigned to the Inspector General Drug Interdiction Team conducting searches of staff and visitors entering the prisons for contraband during weekend prison visitation. Gary also received the Correctional Probation Officer Leadership Award for the Region V, Tampa, Florida, Correctional Probation and he won the Outstanding Merit Award for leadership in the Region V Correctional Officer awards Tampa, Florida.