Correctional Officers in the state of West Virginia go through rigorous training to work at state facilities which include 10 regional jails, 18 correctional facilities and 10 juvenile detention centers.
The training for all of the officers in the state takes place at the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and public Safety Professional Development Center in the city of Glenville. The facility is 44,000 square feet and was developed with Glenville State College.
While weapons training and physical fitness are top priority for these positions, being able to verbally deescalate a situration is equally important. Correctional Officers understand that danger awaits them every day that they walk into a correctional facility. “Inmates are already mad because they’re locked up,” said Randy Purdue, a training director at the training center. He said that the spoken word can deescalate tense situations much more efficiently than the use of force.
Because of the efficacy of language versus force, cadets are taught IPC skills, or interpersonal communication. CO’s are taught to deal with clashes between inmates and conflicts that may occur between an inmate and another CO. It teaches cadets how to have composure during tense situations and is especially important for juvenile services officers.
Other training at the facility includes physical agility coursework where cadets are put through rigorous physical training to prepare them to respond quickly when another CO needs help. The regional jails require a nine-second response time, which means cadets must be in tip-top shape. Cadets must run the course in under three minutes which includes jumping hurdles and weaving through cones.
Cadets also go through knife-attack training as part of the defensive tactics required on the job. They learn that size doesn’t matter and that proper training can give the officer the edge over a larger inmate.
“It’s really about the training,” said Sgt. Daniel James, an instructor at the training center.