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The Academy: Getting Started

 

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Male user Squeeze 70 posts

Nebraska State Corrections has a problem of too much overtime. A recent article in the Omaha World Herald stated there was so much overtime (mandatory) officers were quitting. Never getting enough time off!

 
Isr DT Instructor 108 posts

Well I can’t speak for county corrections or jails, but in the state I work in you’re guranteed 40 hours a week. The problem after you’ve been doing this for 15 years is actually coming in for those 40 hours!

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

And so….

I’ve been dropping applications to get away from the field, and I got a bite.

So ends my time in the corrections field.

Do I wish it had worked out differently? Hell yes.

As I stated, I’m actually good at this, I actually enjoy it. I simply can’t afford it. If the hours were there, completely different story.

I wish you all the best of luck, special thanks to Squeeze for participating in a thread that had a large sum of views, but almost no interaction.

I hope this was useful to at least one individual, then it would be worth it.

Thanks again.

 
Male user Squeeze 70 posts

We don’t have an agility test, it would disqualify too many 5’5 350lb officer candidates. But we (as a former new hire instructor) understand we are going to lose 30- 60% of new hire in the 1st year. It is the norm in our business. If you are determined to stick it out, get the experience then go look at another county that hires full time with defined shifts. They will hire good experienced people before non experienced.Understand the rules for that facility and if you BELIEVE you will do well there talk to some officers, ask for the tour and if they do, give out a few of you business cards or personal cards to the officers and ask the hard questions, especially talk to some Sargents, they are the more experienced of the line staff generally. Also remember that the average life expectancy of correctional officers is only 57. So choose well. Look for facilities that have a 20-25 years and out clause, look at their retirement systems. Benefits packages. These are important questions. I have a defined out date now(note Campi/Shakyjake,Irish etc..) Jan 16,2016. I’ll have 35 years 3 months and knocking at the door of 60. But think about those things.. I stuck it out because i love it (yes I’m Irish and stupid my German wife says). I love being a sheepdog! Read David Grossman US Army RET.
“Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs” and if you think you are one of us, Welcome. We are a tight bunch, mi casa es su casa!!

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Appreciate it, Squeeze.

For me, personally, I’m actually good at this.

Unfortunately, I was budgeted for the 39 hours they promised us. Anything less, a bill isn’t getting paid.

I’ve been lucky only because I’ve been mandated. So for me, I need to find a little more financial stability.

Still, I wanted to give something, and this thread is my humble offering.

To the kid fresh out of their Criminal Justice course, who views this as a career path, I just want you to know what you’re getting into, to have more of a reference than I had.

And again, my story is completely different than that of hundreds of others.

But you must, MUST investigate.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Squeeze is spot on in a lot of ways.

My Green Mile reference was really the only frame of reference that I had to jail life, I’ve had no run ins with the law, the concept of that many guys just running around loose, like some big malevolent pumpkin patch, never occurred to me.

As for the money end, we calculated that training, outfitting, and processing a class runs roughly 10 grand apiece. The number of hours that they’re required to train us, all that good stuff.

They manage to keep one or two per class.

They pissed away 60 grand.

Again, if it sounds like I’m complaining, it’s not my intent. This is meant to be educational to people who were like me, a couple of months ago, who weren’t even sure where to look for information.

I only discovered this site because it was mentioned in the academy.

Just looking up what the “agility test” entailed was terrifying. Check a few on Youtube, you’ll be convinced that membership to a Ninja clan is a requirement.

 
Male user Squeeze 70 posts

I gotta admit, rotating shifts suck, did it when I was a road deputy. But now you know so where are you going from here? The rest is the past, what is your next step forward going to be, inquiring minds (or mindless ) want to know. We hate to loose a good one but is it for you? Mentoring from these forums may help, may not. Stick it out or take the other path and be a police/sheriff man. Surprisingly, I care. Don’t let anyone know that though.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Is the work hard?

In my facility, no. Midnight shift is supervise cleaners for an hour, put them in, and do an hourly check. The hard part is fighting to stay awake.

Physically, not demanding in the sense that you would think.

No, the physical toll is trying to not eat when you shouldn’t, to maintain a workout routine of some type when your hours are completely out of whack.

I’m not a donut guy, but I had one in uniform, and I’m not being facetious when I tell you, it tasted different, somehow. Maybe the best donut I’d ever eaten. Could just be that it was a really good donut.

Point is this: unless you’re locked into a shift, bouncing from shift to shift, doing 8 hours, going home for 8, and then coming back for 16 is gonna take a helluva toll.

Your facility may vary. Greatly.
That was the point of this thread. I made the mistakes I’ve made because there was zero information out there for me. I found this all out as I’ve gone along.

Had I known this ahead of time, I’m pretty sure that I would have come up with a different career path.

What makes it tougher, these rules all vary from county to county, and State service is a completely different animal.

The nearest county to me runs an old school linear jail, and follows a completely different rulebook, and they’re 5 miles from me.

Investigate.

 
Male user Squeeze 70 posts

Sorry,64 inmates!!

 
Male user Squeeze 70 posts

Direct supervision is the norm depending on what size of jail you work in. The smaller jails can’t afford the cost of personal so they go to indirect or intermittent supervision. I think it sucks they only employ you part time, probably because of healthcare costs. So you didn’t know theses were less than full time hours? We only employ full time. The reason you get sprayed with O.C is when you have to testify in court the question will be asked by the inmates attny: do you know how painful it is when you use o.c. on inmates? Why did you spray him so much? It is easier for a juror to imagine getting hit with a baton than what it feels like to get O.C.‘d. So you get exposed. We have units in my jail that have 46 inmates so we are similar in construction. You mention logic, when in the hiring process did the recruiters mention any logic? They will only give minimal training for 2 reasons: 1. It cost money to not have you on duty station so they only meet minimal requirements 2. the possibility that you may get injured will cost them even more money. These are the simple realities some of us have been fighting, bitching ,imploring,begging, and any other word that is similar for decades. Martial arts helps but start with grappling first because that is where your going to end up most often. If you can tie them up for a minute then responding officers will do the rest. Add some martial arts after a lesson in fundamentals in grappling.
Thinking this job was anything like the “Green Mile” is being naive ( no offense intended) but since now your eyes are wide open and you’ve started look here for advice to your questions. I believe we have the best trainers right here on this forum. Irish Assasin, Campi, SHakyjake and the other can give you a different perspective on most everything you will encounter. Ask us the “what ifs”, we all have slightly different but the same experiences. THIS JOB is the most UNIQUE, difficult, scary, boring, cool job in the criminal justice community and it is NOT for everyone. But once your in and have some experience you will be able to go darn near anywhere and get a job in corrections. The inmates are the same everywhere, the institutions are different. In my own case I have worked in 5 different institutions in 3 different states/counties and I’m not the sharpest tool in the barn. By the way we are hiring in Douglas county, Omaha NE full time,16+ per hour and lots of overtime. Just saying.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

If it’s not a direct supervision facility, it’s a “Linear Supervision” jail.

That, apparently, is the one you see in the movies.

If you’re considering this as a job opportunity, ask these things. If there are tours available, (yes, some jails actually offer tours) then take one.

If you know a C.O., talk to them.

Understand that the nature of this job is political. As has already been pointed out, piss off the wrong individual, and it can have a lasting impact on your career.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

“So what am I supposed to ask, Benning Boy?”

I work in a “Direct Supervision” facility.

I had no idea what that was. I assumed, once again incorrectly, that all jails were “Green Mile” or “Shawshank Redemption”. Long halls of bars, that sort of thing.

Wrong.

I’m in a large room, with 75 of them roaming freely, until I send them to their cells. I had no idea of this concept.

The bulk of our training was “Inter-Personal Communication”, essentially, how to talk to inmates. We got a day of baton training, which was useless, since we’re not permitted batons.

Pepper spray training was getting blasted with pepper spray. Why? So we would know what it feels like.

Following that logic, we also should have been beaten with batons, so that we know what that feels like, too.

There was hand to hand training, I frankly would have liked to see that expanded. In my place, if you don’t have a healthy background in some form of martial arts, you’re at a dangerous disadvantage.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

The fellas have it correct.

Let me be clear, this isn’t a thread about me complaining about my current condition, but a heads up to people looking at this as a job option.

In my situation, I knew beforehand that my facility had a large employee turnover.

My mistake was assumption. I assumed that those that quit just weren’t tough enough, were terrified of inmates.

Wrong.

Everybody quits because of short shifts, they leave because they don’t know if their morning shift is gonna turn into an afternoon shift as well.

The majority of my class left full time jobs to come aboard, because we were told that there were hours. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

My advice to folks considering this, investigate the hell out of it.

 
Male user Squeeze 70 posts

shakyjake has it all correct benning boy. The only way to institute change is to work your way to the top, follow best practices, join the American Jail Ass and American Corrections Ass and drive to the top. If you haven’t been following the state of Nebraska Corrections the state has been all over the news for releasing violent inmate long before their time. The state apparently didn’t follow state law in calculating goodtime and let people out early to reduce overcrowding. One such inmate murdered 4 people when he got out early and he said he was going to do it!! I had his grandfather in the state pen 32 years ago. So you need to become the one at the top to effect change. Watch and observe the culture within the department. Listen to the people here to get some insight from people who have been there,are still there and have years of experience as well as different perspectives but never forget where you started.. Also understand you may make enemies along the way, people you may threaten by working your way up. Ill.. I am still in a position I can’t get promoted from because a person from the outside was put in charge of our department. That person is not a “classification type” and doesn’’t believe!! Now that person is the director, changed the command structure and we are locked into our positions. We can never be the manager of our own dept. because were no longer uniform staff. All because that person and I butted heads on significant issues. I made that mistake, I believed in doing things the right way, not the shortcut way. So heed well if you chose to move up, choose your battles and then when your at the top effect those changes that are right, just and follow best practice models.

 
Flag1 1 shakeyjake 112 posts

Hey that’s how it is with working for the State. This is the way it goes until you retire; only you will be the senior officer casting a wary eye on the new hires. It’s one big circle. If you plan to do your time this way, just listen to the older officers, if you want to make changes then assert yourself in education and the desire to move up, it’s all up to you. Enjoy the ride; hope you get to where you want to be.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Ask a lot of questions.

I was told that mine was a “paramilitary” organization. What does that really mean?

Paramilitary: of or relating to a group that is not an official army but that operates and is organized like an army.

Yeah, my organization wears fake BDUs, blouses them, has a couple of military ranks. Any similarity to the military ends there.

I was told that there was a CERT team, and I formally applied for it. Come to find out it doesn’t officially exist. There are plans for it, someday, but there seem to be MANY plans that don’t come to fruition.

Talk to C.O.s that work where you’re looking at working.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Study for your exams.

There are things that will seem to defy common sense. Therefore, if you’re a common-sense person, relying on that for your tests can screw you.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

The purpose of this thread is to help the new guys, so here’s what you can expect.

You will likely be pepper-sprayed.

It burns.

You will hear a ton of home remedies, a ton of ways to lessen the impact, strategies for overcoming this.

They are bull. It burns. And it will for 15 to 45 minutes. You’ll go home, get a shower. Then it will burn again.

For me, the initial hit sucked. I dealt with it, smoked a cigarette. People thought I was tough, but smoking took my mind off of it.

I went home took a shower. This was worse.

I ran around my house, blind, wet, naked. My dog was amused.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

So, this is how it went.

Wrapped up training, and it’s a perfect, ideal world.

Hit the cellblocks, and all of that stuff went out the window. Got mandated in the middle of OJT. And was compelled to train another individual even though I was still training myself.

Again, keep in mind, this is County level.

The current full time staff whines about being short, but constantly berates the new guys, as if they want them to quit.

I graduated my class Valedictorian, and I frankly don’t see sticking this out for very long. We were promised 39+ hours a week, we see 24. My mortgage company doesn’t believe in excuses.

The inmates aren’t a problem. The staff, on the other hand, can be your greatest enemy.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Sorry, life has been busy.

Graduated, been working.

Haven’t been on here, didn’t seem to be much interest in the thread.

 
Male user Squeeze 70 posts

Amazing that benning boy is getting real training. The real skills needed to perform your duties. Often training classes are mostly book work like college courses. I applaud your facility for making it real. Someday when maybe you become an O.C. instructor, you let the recruits spray you for fun!!

 
Isr DT Instructor 108 posts

Week one must’ve been it……….

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

End of week one.

The Captain running training has been beyond super. The man gets it.

We’ve toured the blocks. We were asked before we got there if anyone was scared. None of us admitted it. The Captain told us that his first time, he was. I think those of us that didn’t admit it are liars. Myself included.

We’ve done a lot of role play, a lot of communication theory, and we’ve walked the block.

The Captain has, for me, cemented my faith that this was the right choice for me.

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Quick break, for something I like to call “Jail Dictionary”.

Not so much as how to speak like an inmate, but rather to understand them.

Also, terms used by C.O.s to communicate through the shift.

What I’ve amassed thus far….

Podfathers- Those O.G. types that think they run the block.

Spray Day- The part of the Academy where you are introduced to the joys of Oleoresin Capsicum.

Commisary- The actual product that inmates purchase off of their books. A soup is commissary. A notepad is commissary.

Celly- Your cellmate.

I hope there is more to come, this stuff is often hilarious.

You don’t like it? You spin me….

 
Male user benning boy 20 posts

Everything you know is wrong.

The bottom of the food chain in the civilian world is instant noodle soup. That’s what you buy when you’re on a budget.

In jail, the soup is the currency. Purchased at inflated prices, the lowly Ramen of the civilian free world is King in jail.

All of the stuff you’ve seen in movies? Bogus. One Officer walks among throngs of inmates, unarmed. All in the open.

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