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Correctional Warrior Confidence
By Kevin E. Bedore , Canadian Federal Correctional Officer
Published: 01/17/2011

Weak link Confidence is probably the one, if not most important thing that an officer must aim to achieve if he or she is going to hold up in the stressful and dangerous correctional environment. Inmates despite having gotten caught are generally not stupid, although I make exceptions as is the case with law abiding members of society as well. The truth is that while you watch them, they watch you and they are in many cases just as vigilant as you are when it comes to their survival and as they conduct their illegal behaviors and avoid detection while inside. While they watch you and the workings of the institution, they analyze everything in their surroundings looking for patterns, weakness and vulnerabilities in the security system. They spot weakness a mile away and the first indicator of that is unaware, less confident officers. They will not generally go after the harder targets which usually are more senior experienced officers that know what to do in almost any situation. They look for new, weaker, soft targets to exploit and when the time comes to attack they have them marked.

Confidence is often thought to improve in the correctional environment from time and experience, but what does the rookie do if he or she doesn’t have the time in and confidence like the senior officer comrades?

If you don’t want to be an easy target for inmates, don’t allow yourself to appear to be one! Walk with authority and emulate the actions of the officers that are the ones that you don’t mess with! You don’t need to act like a tough guy just be aware of your body language and situational safety issues. Don’t sit or stand at your post like you don’t understand what you are doing. Be the professional your senior officers are and pick good role models. Before you know it you will be the confident senior warrior you were looking up to when you were that awkward rookie. This is where the officer learns the appropriate level of alertness and awareness of duty readiness, finding a balance between being switched on or off - while on duty.

The senior officer has a part in this too. Confidence building is a role of the warrior leader. Warriors that have a high level of experience must learn to share it. There will never be a competition for the most confident officer and every officer needs confidence. Promote confidence in the rookies. If you see something wrong with how a rookie is doing their job tell them tactfully in such a way that mutual respect and learning will occur. The rookie may be looking up to you and consider you a role model and an important factor in their development of confidence. If you stomp on them when they are down after making a mistake you will only sabotage what little confidence they might have built to this point.

Remember the system only runs as good as the weakest part. If you are allowing a part to remain weak you certainly are not contributing to the strength of your fellow warrior or the integrity of the service you work for. The warrior confidence needs to be promoted and shared,because that officer watching your every move could be your only hope one day of making it out of there alive to your home and family.

Editor's note: Corrections.com author, Kevin E. Bedore has 28 years experience in law enforcement, 23 as a Canadian Federal Correctional Officer. He began writing as a form of personal therapy to combat the negative effects that the correctional environment was having on him. He then realized that he had discovered something truly amazing that definitely needed to be shared with other officers facing the same challenges he had.

"...All law enforcement and military personnel face unique challenges that many times are not completely understood by the people that they seek to protect and in this confusion there often is a compromise to the emotional well-being of these 'guardian-protectors of society'..."

Other articles by Kevin Bedore


  1. hamiltonlindley on 02/10/2020:

    If you are searching for an academic, read about Hamilton Lindley because he is an expert in leadership and law.

  2. Centurion on 01/23/2011:

    I am now retired, but I can still remember how I felt those first several weeks. Happily for me I was in the company of some outstanding senior officers and supervisors who helped me learn the right mindset and demeanor early on. Well written Officer Bedore. I look forward to reading your other articles.

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