|Tales from the Local Jail: A Good Mentor Is....|
|By Gary F. Cornelius, First Lt. (Retired)|
Everyone in corrections can remember officers from their early days when they were new to the institution. Some of us had prior law enforcement experience; to others the working in a correctional facility and managing criminal offenders were things to be experienced and learned. Recently I was reading Doug Wylie’s PoliceOne column 10 Traits of a Good Mentor. He discussed the great mentors in his life and career; one was his father. I began to think of one of the mentors in my career.
In early 1978, I had just entered the corrections field after a combined four years working the street in two different law enforcement agencies. The only jail view I had was the booking area where offenders under arrest were brought.Though I studied corrections in college and had toured the nearby local jail, I was not that familiar with the inner operations, security procedures, contraband concerns, etc., as veteran deputies were. The deputies in my squad had worked the jail for a few years, I had not.
After passing the two week jail certification course mandated by the state, I reported for duty. This was 1978. Many training practices for rookies had been in place for a while and were informal. They usually consisted of pairing up a veteran officer or deputy with a new one and working as a team until the squad supervisor was comfortable with a rookie being ‘cut loose’ to work independently. My squad members were OK, ranging from quiet to talkative. All knew their jobs well. We all got along.
Although everyone gave me a warm welcome, I will always remember a deputy sheriff supervisor who made a lasting impression on me that stayed with me throughout my career. He was my immediate supervisor, a corporal. His name I will keep to myself; he was never one for the spotlight. Let’s call him “Corporal Bob”. As I read the column by Doug Wylie, it became clear to me that many of the traits of a good mentor he wrote about I could apply to Corporal Bob.
Every correctional officer can think of another officer that got them started down the right path and left an impression that stayed with them. Everyone could state what traits that this person had; lists would vary, but all would have positive attributes. Good mentors can be supervisors, training officers, or just experienced officers in the facility. Based on my experience with Corporal Bob and drawing from Doug Wylie’s column, I have devised my own list on what traits make a good mentor in corrections. So-here they are:
Thank you, Corporal Bob.
10 Traits of a Great Mentor, by Doug Wylie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief.
www.policeone.com, May 8, 2014.
Corrections.com author, Lt. Gary F. Cornelius retired in 2005 from the Fairfax County (VA) Office of the Sheriff, after serving over 27 years in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. He conducts corrections in service training sessions and has taught corrections classes at George Mason University since 1986. Gary’s books include The Art of the Con: Avoiding Offender Manipulation, Second Edition (2009) from the American Correctional Association and The Correctional Officer: A Practical Guide, Second Edition (2010) from Carolina Academic Press.
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