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Correctional Officers Learn Possibly Life-Saving Tactics

Updated: Thursday, May 15 2014, 10:57 AM CDT
Corrections officers from around the state are in central Illinois learning potentially life-saving tactics.

It may look like fighting or even fun, but the moves they're learning could be the difference between life and death for correctional officers in county jails throughout the state.

In addition to physical training like defensive tactics, the newly hired correctional officers learn about laws and standards and go through firearm training.

"You may not need to use this every day. You may not need it every month, but when it comes to that moment, you have to be ready," said David Beatty, who was hired as a correctional officer in Boone county in March.

It's all part of a five-week long course, mandated by the state.

Lt. William Strayer, with the Sangamon county sheriff's office, is leading the academy. "Same as law enforcement on the street, correctional officers have to be trained and certified, so this academy is designed around things they'll need to know when they get back to their facility," Strayer said.

All of the correctional officers were hired in the last six months. Some have had a little on-the-job training, but five were hired the day training started and have never even seen the inside of a jail.

Challenges are thrown at them; including dealing with people of different sizes.

"In a jail environment, a close environment, you run into all sizes of a people. You have to be able to handle yourself physically," Strayer said.

The Sangamon county jail hosts this training about three times a year.

The sheriff's office is paid $2,200 for each trainee that goes through the program. That amount covers each officer's hotel, food, instructor costs and other expenses.

Sangamon county Undersheriff Jack Campbell said, "It helps us offset some of the costs and have a pool of money we can tap into if we need it; we're talking about tables, chairs, updating video equipment."

The hands-on training is demanding, but extremely important.

"It's a matter of survival," Strayer said.

The trainees will test Friday, to graduate. If they don't pass, they can re-test up to two more times if their department allows.

Training doesn't stop there; all Illinois correctional officers have annual firearm and taser training. Other yearly testing varies by department.Correctional Officers Learn Possibly Life-Saving Tactics


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