1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    What makes a good corrections officer?

    I am a LEO for the Sheriff's Office which recently took over the Jail. I just began doing background investigations for new correction officers. In this economy we have more applications then custody BIs can handle.

    My experience with COs ends with the booking process. I am not very familiar with what makes a good CO. I assume it is very simialir to LEO. Any feedback may be helpful

  2. #2
    Go HARD!! ... or go home.
    ACS1719's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    SoCal... But not the one YOU think
    A good CO, CPO, Detention Deputy, or whatever you are going to call them starts with interpersonal skills even more so then a street copper because they will almost certainly not have the same resources IMMIDIATELY available to them when **** goes sideways.

    Inmates may be incarcerated for hours, days, weeks, years, or decades. Street coppers dont really have to build rapports with the people they are picking up and past that they only really need them for longer term investigative purposes such as prolonged interviews or CI's. A CO absolutely must build a rapport with his/her inmates, in one way shape or form, in order to maximize how effective he or she is. They must be able to find a way to adapt to an inmates personality and traits with little or no experience with that inmate. As such stellar interpersonal skills, CONSISTANCY, very very little or zero tolerance for deviation from good order and respect, and a strong sense of self respect morality are a must in order to maintain control of a jail and limit the chance for corruption of staff.

    Start there and incorperate all the other traits you would expect of a street LEO and you should be onthe right track!
    "If and eye for an eye leave the whole world blind, then why the **** are gun toting gangbangers still hitting things?!!"

    Equipment Type: Bianchi Accumold Elite/Safariland/De Santis/Stallion Leather
    Flashlights: Surefire Peacekeeper P1R (Belt)
    Handcuffs: S&W 100's
    Preferred Firearm: S&W MP 40

    ***My statements are my opinions ONLY and are not representative of my agency or its policies***

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    I posted the following "wish list" on another forum.

    Remember that it is MY list of what I think would be helpful for a Correctional Officer (I work for a state DOC not a county----but I have county experience)

    Here is my idea of the "perfect" recruit......................:thumbs:

    Be somewhere around 22-29 yrs old with at least an AA degree in just about anything.
    This gives the recruit a little bit of life experience to bring to the table. Any younger and well, it makes it real hard to be working in prison…..sorry kids, it’s the truth…..I was there many, many yrs ago @ age 20.

    The AA, well lets just say that it the topping on the cake……………..the 2 yr degree gives you enough experience in writing and research to be able to put together a good incident or disciplinary report, one that will be legible and/or analytical to the suits that eventually end up reading them for the next 20 yrs or so.

    As far at the 29yrs old…..I am not a fan of correctional staff working after age 55. This job is hard on your body and soul………shift work is terrible on your health and the stress is worse on the soul. Be able to get out at 55 with your maximum retirement benefits. Ok the 22-29 is a guideline not chiseled in stone.

    Be physically fit
    Ok, I don’t’ mean you have to be a marathon runner or anything even close………BUT……..I would really, really like for you to be able to run across the compound and pull my aged a*s*s out of the fire when the fecal matter hits the rotary wind machine. The 59 yr old that weighs 290lbs and huffs and puffs up a flight of stairs is a danger in our line of work.

    Be willing to learn.
    There are soooooooo many rookies out there that know everything there is to know about corrections because they have that CJ degree, or was an MP, or saw a movie about prison last month, or drove past Paul Newman’s house last year, or whatever. (I still love Cool Hand Luke) I have 30 ++ years in Law Enforcement and Corrections…….and the last month has shown me how much I can still learn. (do a search on Iowa Flooding on the forum)

    Have a stable work record.
    Show me a record of working at some jobs longer than the typical life cycle of a pair of work socks. If you are changing jobs ever couple months or so……………..I start wondering if all those bosses that “didn’t understand you”……………..really DID understand you and decided to help you on your way to a new career.

    Know how to keep your mouth shut.
    There is a reason that you are given 2 eyes, 2 ears and ONE mouth. Learn to look around and listen to what you hear around you twice as much as you talk……..you will end up being a better staff member if you think twice before you do something. Also when you are in the interview……………when I ask you a question………..think about it before you answer………………… as a seasoned interviewer, I can see through ”canned” answer. If you even act like you are thinking about your answer I will think you are giving the job process some thought and not just going through the motions.

    Be respectful of senior staff. (yes Maam, or yes Sir)

    Yes respect should be earned and not just given because the dinosaur that is telling you how to do your job really DID stand mainline at the last supper. But remember that the particular dinosaur you are looking at HAS paid his dues at some point in his/her career. They paid those dues at a time when, most likely, rookies weren’t allowed to talk for the first six months. He/She will resent you as an up an comer and probably resent the fact that you are young…….and he/she is not anymore………. Also remember that even the crustiest old timer, who won’t talk to you or maybe even talks through you………..probably has underwear that has been in prison more years than you are old.

    Now this one is the hard one.

    Have a (semi flexible) spine.
    Be able to tell an inmate NO…………………..but you also have to remember that you don’t want that spine to show its self too much when you are dealing with senior staff. To explain:
    You have to be a Type A person when dealing with inmates……………but if you are too much of a Type A person ALL the time…..you will probably alienate yourself to other staff……….WHO ARE ALSO MOSTLY Type A’s

    That is one of the problems in corrections…………you have placed a bunch of Type A’s in charge of all those inmates………and then they have to work together (and play nicely) with all the other Type A’s that we end up hiring as Corrections staff.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Baltimore, MD
    Remember to be three things......Fair, Firm and Impartial. Fair: listen to people. You might learn something. Firm: In jail, all you have is your word. If you tell an inmate has got nothing coming, stick to your word. If on the other hand, you say he got something coming, make sure he does. Lastly, Impartial: Don't not do for an inmate today because he may have cussed you out 6 months ago........maybe he was having a bad day.

  5. #5
    Fear my Laser Face
    Protect-N-Serve's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Los Angeles, California
    Make sure you realize everything inmates tell you are in one shape or another a lie. They are there 365/24/7 and do think up of ways to con you.

    Be able to confront these inmates and feel confident doing it even if you are vastly outnumbered. Just because you are outnumbered, doesn't mean you should play by their rules.

    If your partner tells you to get your pepper spray out or anything to assist you when confronting someone, do it and do not question them. You will get tunnel visioned at points, know that others see things you will not, so listen and take appropriate action.

    Even in the worst situations, keep your calm.

    Fair, firm, inconsistent, and impartial. Keep your routine changing, people are normally creatures of habit, the more you change things or act different from other officers when dealing with inmates, the more they will be nervous around you.

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