Earlier this month during National Correctional Workers Week, seven correctional officers took the next step in their careers, graduating from the 96th County Corrections Academy.
The graduating class included two officers from Strafford County House of Corrections and one from Belknap County House of Corrections; each facility is represented by the SEA/SEIU Local 1984.
SEA member Kevin Bowdridge, a correctional officer in Strafford County who’s the vice president of Chapter 65, served as the color guard at the graduation ceremony. He said all of the graduates had to go through regimented training courses, much like what police cadets go through, in order to become certified as a correctional officer.
“It includes everything from constitutional law to hostage negotiation and drug recognition,” he said of the five-week-long academy. “Provided you pass a physical fitness exam and various written tests, at the end of the academy you’ll receive your certification and swear an oath.”
Bowdridge said there are some limitations on what newly hired correctional officers can do on the job. New hires are considered probationary and have a year and a half to graduate from the corrections academy.
SEA member Elizabeth Baez, who was among the graduates, has been on the job now for around a year and a half.
“The whole process of the academy is good,” she said. “After a year and a half on the job, you might think you know everything, but you don’t. You learn a lot in the academy, and it helps you with your career.”
She said she learned a lot about things like the history of corrections and, very importantly, how to take care of yourself on the job.
“Before it was in my mind, but not like it is now,” she said. “I’m more aware.”
As much as she said she learned at the academy, she also said she was able to bring some of her own experiences into the classroom.
“One of the teachers was surprised by this,” she said. “I work with a lot of the female prisoners, and they all talk with the F word. I tell them, ‘if you want to talk to me, no F word.’ You can see them afterwards practicing talking without using it.”
In addition to Baez, graduates included Amanda Cooper of Belknap County and Michael Kenyon of Strafford County. Cooper, a part-time officer, won the academy’s Academic Award and was named the academy’s Honor Graduate. Congratulations to all of the graduates.