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How important it is to be vigilant when in a correctional environment

How important it is to be vigilant when in a correctional environment

In this Oct. 28, 1999, photo, a group of inmates is moved from one cell unit to another at California State Prison Sacramento, in Folsom, Calif.

I learned valuable insights and expertise from my training as a wildlife scientist to be able to thrive in correctional settings. I remember the moment when a friend of mine in biology told me that Apredator was a predator, whether they are two-legged, or four-legged. That was a lesson I still remember to this day.

This is a statement that I have found to be more accurate than you might think. That is why it is crucial that every officer, no matter their rank, remains vigilant when they enter their facility. Because you Have toAlways be ready for anything ugly or dangerous that may occur.

You must be alert and confident to be safe, especially when you are outnumbered by three or sixty people.

In this Oct. 28, 1999, photo, a group of inmates is moved from one cell unit to another at California State Prison Sacramento, in Folsom, Calif.

This Oct. 28, 1999 photo shows a group of inmates being moved from one cell to the next at California State Prison Sacramento in Folsom, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli).

There is no doubt that there is an inmate hierarchy in each jail/prison and inmate unit in this country. To be vigilant is being an excellent observer and taking note of all details.

Here are three actions every vigilant officer should take:

BE AWARE

When you enter the jail, there should be no doubt that the unit leader has entered. It should not be difficult to spot the position of an officer in the hierarchy as soon as they enter the room.

How you conduct yourself will determine how quickly your time in the unit. Each time you enter, inmates will evaluate you and determine if your mental state is good.

Stand tall, scan the unit and continue moving.

KNOW THE ROOM

Every officer should take the time to evaluate the unit before entering.

I have witnessed too many instances, not only post-incident video, where officers fell to their knees, failed to assess a unit before entry, and walked straight into a maelstrom. While most officers were able to exit after their rounds were completed many others were not so fortunate and were subjected to a brutal assault.

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Each officer should be familiar with the location of each unit they work in and the steps needed to get there.

OBSERVE (continually)

It is possible for the floors personality to change quickly. Officers need to be alert to these signs and recognize them as they happen.

  1. The unit can produce noise levels that fluctuate between high and low.
  2. Inmates clear a unit floor.
  3. Fingers move wildly on the table or on the legs of inmates.
  4. Tap your toes continuously
  5. Fists clench.
  6. An inmate takes a deep breath.
  7. An inmate’s eyes stop scanning and focuses on a target.
  8. When talking or walking, an inmate will raise their toes.
  9. Teeth clench, jaws tighten, lips draw tight.
  10. Faces can feel empty.
  11. An Inmate fails respond to directives

All of these signs could indicate an imminent attack or outburst.

No officer should be able to deny the similarities between those in our facilities and the wild apex predators. Each of us must be vigilant while in their company and make sure we are ready to protect them.

NEXT – Corrections are not a place for complacency

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