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SPECIAL REPORT: Training detention officers to work in a jail without bars
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SPECIAL REPORT: Training detention officers to work in a jail without bars

SPECIAL REPORT: Training detention officers to work in a jail without bars
Photo Credit: Russell Mills

SPECIAL REPORT: Training detention officers to work in a jail without bars

A job as a corrections officer at the Tulsa County jail will make you an effective manager in any number of industries, because you'll have to learn to handle as many as 95 people who don't want to be there and do it in a respectful, non-confrontational way -- without any bars separating you from the prisoners.

The Tulsa County jail, formally known as the David L. Moss Correctional Facility, is a massive and ultra-modern facility, located at 300 N. Denver Ave., just north of downtown.

Seasoned veterans, like Sgt. Mark Stevens of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, will tell you they didn't believe it would ever work to have prisoners and corrections officers sharing the same space without those stereotypical bars one would expect inside a jail.

But Sgt. Stevens is a believer now, and he just returned from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where he was teaching them the lessons learned here in the Tulsa County jail under the system known as "direct supervision."

A jail training officer since 1984, he tells KRMG that roughly 85 percent of the training for new detention officers is about effective communication.

"One of our main goals here it to teach good communications skills to our officers so that they can talk to the inmates rather than have to fight them or physically restrain them," he said.

KRMG spoke with a number of cadets, on their third day of training.

"It's adult daycare," Detention Officer Corie King told KRMG; her job is to train those cadets.

"If you can handle regular daycare, you can handle adult daycare," she added, with a smile.

All four of the cadets we talked to said they hope to use a position as a detention officer as a stepping stone to a career in law enforcement.

But Sgt. Stevens said those future DO's will have highly-developed skills in communication and management if they make it through the training and spend a few months on the job.

Those skills, he says, can translate into success in any number of fields.

Coming up in our special report, KRMG will explore how direct supervision works, and what an incredible difference it's made in the relationship between the inmates and the DOs.

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