This week a group of detention officers will complete the first in-house jail academy hosted by the Sheriff’s Office. In the past, new detention officers started their training on their first day of the job and were assigned to a training officer.

A few weeks ago, four people started at the Sheriff’s Office; but unlike before, their first few weeks of training was a mixture of classroom and hands-on training giving them the ability to hear from different instructors on different subjects throughout the training cycle. The group has done very well the first few weeks and have learned a lot in a short time. Some of the classes that were covered in the classroom setting included: Laws and statutory obligations relating to jails, medical screening and medications, legal authority of detention officers, policies and liability.

Each day for the new group would include some classroom studies and some training on the floor of the jail or other areas. The group took firearms training the first week that included some classroom and qualifying on the shooting range. They also received training from members of the Special Response Team on responding to disturbances in the jail and searching inmates and cells for contraband and weapons.

Next, training turns to running the jail’s control system, which takes a minimum of one week to complete. The following week training will include Taser certification, OC (pepper spray), and defensive tactics training. This week they have been working on the floor (under trainer supervision) and have been learning very quickly some of the things that go on inside of a jail!

Detention officers are responsible for searching all property that is brought into the jail by someone who has been arrested and one of the new detention officers found a meth pipe in a purse, and on another occasion two of the new officers responded to a fight in one of the PODS between two inmates. We can already see a great improvement in how fast the new hires are learning; and after seeing how successful this method of training is, we are working on ways to expand it and add even more training into the in-house academy.

When talking to people in the community, I have found that a lot of people assume that a “jailer” is just someone that stands around watching the inmates and takes them their food at meal time. What a lot of people do not know is that a county jailer in Missouri has the same powers of arrest, authority to serve papers and warrants, and any other duty as a deputy whenever they are on duty and inside the jail or transporting inmates.

Most of the legal paperwork involving the courts, warrants, and information that goes to the highway patrol and other agencies is completed by the jail staff. Across the state of Missouri, the majority of all lawsuits filed against Sheriff’s come from incidents in the jail. It is an extremely important job and there is a lot of responsibility in the field of corrections. I am excited to see the different ways we can improve and expand this training class for future employees!