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Waiting for backup in corrections

If you think there is any chance you’ll need backup, don’t be a hero

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for my friends in corrections. I want to talk to you about the importance of waiting for backup.

I know, you were trained and are expected to think on your feet and do your job without a lot of supervision. You often perform your duties alone, outnumbered by inmates. You don’t want to be that officer who repeatedly calls for backup when it may not be needed. No one wants to be seen as incapable of handling our responsibilities.

But wait. There is no disadvantage to having backup present when dealing with a potentially violent or non-compliant inmate. Sometimes the mere presence of backup officers is a deterrent to inmate violence.

Extra bodies mean extra help if gaining control of an inmate is necessary. Outnumbering the inmate in a struggle can make the difference between successfully controlling the inmate and sustaining an injury that can lead to lost work time. Not to mention the potential for injuries to inmates.

Another benefit: Backup officers can corroborate details of the event or the inmate’s behaviors.

Think about this, what about the potential for a set-up? Always consider that inmates may seek to exploit the fact that corrections officers work alone or are separated from their coworkers. Inmates will do things to initiate a rapid response by staff. Is the fight, fire, or medical emergency call actually a planned ambush waiting for you, or others?

So, when you hear one of your coworkers involved in a potentially hazardous activity involving inmates, why not check on them, even if no backup was called for?

And if you think there is any chance you’ll need backup, don’t be a hero. Make the call. If immediate action is not necessary, take a breath, disengage and wait for backup. That’s not weakness, that’s playing it smart.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

For more tips from Gordon, click here.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.