Appreciating corrections officers; those who “try to keep somebody who’s having a bad day from having a worse day”
RAPID CITY, S.D.- The week of May 1 through the 7 is National Correctional Officers week, and I stepped into the Pennington County Jail to see what a day looks like in the world of corrections.
“We’re trying to protect society. We’re trying to protect the people that we care for here, and and a lot of people don’t quite understand what that means,” explains Savanna Flock, Corrections Officer at Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s a different environment from being out on the streets for sure. At least in here, we don’t, we don’t have to deal with things one on one,” Flock says. “Your team is there within a matter of seconds.”
Not all correctional officers work in a cell block.
“As a trustee officer, I work eight to five. I primarily focus on ensuring we have enough of a workforce for the kitchen and the laundry, and ensuring we have the manpower to feed the jail, which is at this time, in between 600 and 650 people. So, we’re just trying to keep people fed and make sure they have clean clothes to wear,” says Christopher Daniel, Corrections Officer at Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.
Others make sure that inmates appear for their court dates.
“Everyone that comes in, comes in on different charges, all different reasons for being here. So, once they see the judge, then they can find out why they’re here and find out what their rights are. It’s very important, making sure that they understand what rights they have and so that they kind of know what the next steps are going to be for them. And then they get an opportunity to bond at that time as well,” Flock adds.
Although we may assume that working in a jail feels repetitive or confining, corrections officers say each day holds new challenges.
“It’s always different, so I never know what I’m going to do the next day. I think just managing the inmates, I think overseeing people, learning how to deal with them and people that are coming from various walks of life and how best to communicate with them and help them,” says Daniel.
“You can go from having a day that looks pretty basic for you, to in a matter of seconds, having an incident, having someone panic or, or having a medical issue that needs immediate attention. So we’re just always on our toes here, and that’s just a good part of the job. But it’s also something that you have to think about,” says Flock.
Free lunch was offered to jail employees through the week to recognize the unseen sacrifices they make each and every day.