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Education & Training
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Kaplan University, School of Public Safety
Published: 09/19/2016

Books_stack We have another interesting corrections topic this month; education and training. You are a certified officer and may have entered the corrections field (prisons, jails, probation, parole, and other) with a college degree, some college hours, or no college hours. Sometime during your career, you are going to look toward advancement within the agency and/or a possible job change to another criminal justice field. Or you want to improve your educational background for other reasons. Regardless of your decision, now is the time to look at some educational and professional development goals. This may consist of future promotional opportunities and retirement plans. Yes, it is not too early to begin planning in these areas. Along with this are certifications, professional development, and education. You want to be marketable and prepared for any promotional opportunities you may be interested in.

I always try to look at where I see myself in 1-3 years; 3-5 years, 5-7 years, or more. There is no formula for this, just something I use to plan. You can always adapt the number of years to your own choice. By doing this you are preparing yourself for promotional advancement. Start by looking at the various positions you are interested in and also what steps and requirements are required for various positions. From here you can identify minimum number of years on the job requirements as well as any additional training and educational requirements. Moving up through ranks will allow you be prepared for these opportunities, as well as retirement. Sometimes I do not think we realize the benefits from additional training and education. Quite often this can lead to improvements and communication skills in our job and even at home. Our decision making and confidence in our abilities cannot be stressed enough. We work in a difficult and stressful environment and we want to be on the top of our game. Being prepared and knowing how to respond and perform our duties without hesitation is a must. This is part of our daily activities and processes. Our personal interests in continued training and education is not only for ourselves, but our fellow officers, staff, family, and personal achievements.

Our annual training hour requirements will vary from agency to agency and consist of required training and, in some cases electives. We can look at our areas of interests in corrections and also areas of expertise. If you are line staff, non-uniform staff, part of supervision, management, or administration; training requirements are in place for the various positions within corrections. You want to be prepared and confident in the performance of your duties. You are a professional and, as mentioned previously, you work in a field that is challenging and not all are able to work in the corrections environment. This training and professional development will also assist in decision making skills, self-esteem, self-confidence, improving our confidence, and other areas.

Even if you choose not to pursue college credits and/or a degree, annual training is a must. Something else we can consider are use of corrections to enhance our corrections knowledge base. In some case there is also the availability of online training webinars that you may receive credit through acceptable online corrections organizations and your training department. I strongly suggest you check with your training department and ensure these webinars will count toward acceptable training hours. Below are listed some credible government sites and some training available.

Bureau of Justice Statistics http://www.bjs.gov/
National Criminal Justice Reference Service https://www.ncjrs.gov/
National Institute of Corrections http://nicic.gov/
National Institute of Justice http://www.nij.gov/Pages/welcome.aspx
Office Juvenile Justice Programs http://www.ojjdp.gov/.

There are certainly other sites out there and feel free to do some internet searches. I also find we have a valuable resource at our agencies and often do not take full advantage of this resource. Our personnel and training departments offer training opportunities if we do a little research. Building upon our knowledge base is always a plus. We also are role models for our family and other officers and staff at our work places. Besides this, you are sending a message that you are interested in advancement and other opportunities within the organizations.

Our various organizations are structured differently and there may be training modules in place for you on a twelve-month basis. Take advantage of these opportunities and do not procrastinate; take the training classes as necessary and complete early. Try and avoid waiting until the last minute to complete training. This will also assist in keeping a clear and open mind during training, versus being stressed and trying to cram everything in. Practice some self-control and time management skills. Being organized and able to achieve work goals are a must. Your supervisor will begin to recognize this.

There is another area that needs mentioning. When you complete training and able to excel at your assigned duties the inmates/offenders are going to recognize this and note the changes as well as confidence now exhibited by you. Remember, you will probably receive some comments from officers as well. At times some of these comments may not be favorable. This is okay, you are working to improve yourself not others. Jealousy is in place and do not become part of this. As I mentioned earlier, you are a professional and take pride in this. You are achieving and earning something that others cannot take away from you. Your family and true friends are going to recognize this.

Best regards,
Terry


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