Local corrections officers graduate from training program

Published 11:51 pm Saturday, March 8, 2008

Twenty corrections officers at the Pearl River County Jail completed training courses provided by the Criminal Justice Training Institute on Friday.

The class is mandated by the Mississippi Minimum Standards Board, and was developed so all jail officers can be trained and certified, said Bob Chandler, training director and Deptuy Warden at the Harrison County Jail.

Chandler said the course offers 80 hours of training by seven different instructors in many varied aspects of jail responsibilities. Some of the aspects Chandler listed include, but are not limited to, Inmate Management, Communication and Observation Techniques, Handcuff Techniques, Legal Rights, Suicide Detention and Prevention, Special Management of Inmates, Officer Conduct and Professionalism, Report Writing, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid, Self Defense Tactics, Hand to Hand Combat, Cell Extraction, Contraband Control, Cell Shakedown and Searches and Body Search Techniques.

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“A lot of this is practical, but we do testing also. We give five written exams and four practical exams,” Chandler said.

Jim Terry, owner of the Institute, said his program is unique because it travels from jail to jail across the state, while most other programs are located at sheriff’s departments or community colleges.

“We like to do this in the jail setting because it provides an accurate environment. It is also required in the Cell Shakedown and Searches class that it be done on site,” Terry said.

Chandler said the program is mandated by the state, which reimburses the officers’ tuition, travel expenses and salaries while they are enrolled in the two-week course.

“There is absolutely no cost to the county, and once these people are certified, they are certified for life. They can work anywhere in Mississippi with these credentials,” Chandler said.

Chandler said the program also helps to decrease liabilities within the jail setting.

“After training, the liability factor drops at least by half. Our main objective is protection of prisoners and ourselves, and decreasing liability through increased knowledge,” Chandler said.

Graduating officers said the program had benefitted them in more ways than one.

“I know most inmates can’t be trusted. They’re good at plaing games and we have to be aware of that. We can’t get caught up in it. We are here to watch over them and to make sure their safety is intact as well as our own. We protect one another and have each other’s back,” Sandra Bordelon said.

Willie Ray said he is a former street deputy who is learning about the administrative and jail side of the law.

“I used to bring them in and drop them off and leave. Now I’m learning how the other side works. I think it makes me a more well-rounded officer,” Ray said.

Sheena Cuevas she learned more about the dangers she faces daily.

“This is a brother and sisterhood. We have to watch out for each other. This class has been enlightening, and has taught me more to look out for the dangers towards myself and my fellow officers,” Cuevas said.

Anthony Emmons, a former truck driver, said the class helped him learn more about his new career as a correctional officer.

“It’s been a daily learning experience, one of which I am proud,” Emmons said.