Bridging the Gap: Behind the scenes at KCSO corrections officer training

Bridging the Gap

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Do you have what it takes to be a corrections officer?

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office needs about 40 right now to work directly with inmates at the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility.

We went behind the scenes for a glimpse of officer training in action.

Dozens of recruits learning to punch, kick and wrestle an offender to the ground. It’s part of officer training happening at the detention center.

“Learn defensive tactics, handcuffing, self-defense, uses of force, what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate,” officer-in-training Harper Lang said.

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It’s the physical part of training but it incorporates mental agility for life-or-death moments.

“Are you gonna freeze during that situation or are you gonna act?” KCSO Training division Cpt. Erin Baxter said.

“You have to have confidence, you have to be resilient, you have to bounce back from being talked to poorly and things like that. You have to have a ‘command’ presence,” Training division Cpl. Anthony Phillps said.

“We also have gang training and our special operations response training,” Training division Cpl. Andrea Parton said. “We offer all kinds of things to people to develop their passions.”

There are six weeks of training, beginning with intensive classroom work, going over policies, procedure and laws.

Harper Lang isn’t the first in his family to enter the law enforcement field.

“They’re a little nervous but they’re excited for me,” he said.

Bethany Oglesby is one of two women in this class. At first, her goal was like many other officers in training.

“Came in here wanting to go on patrol,” Oglesby said. “Now that I’m here, I love the structure that we have going on here.”

Bethany’s training will qualify her to work in law enforcement or at the detention facility as a corrections officer overseeing inmates.

It’s a career that will certainly allow you to make a difference.

“It’s always exciting and always something new,” Parton said. “So, if you’re wanting excitement, want to give back to your community in a different way.”

Applicants must be able to run a mile and a half in under 16 minutes, do 20 push-ups and 24 sit-ups.

For more information on requirements, and for an application, go to knoxsheriff.org

(Editor’s Note: Watch for Bridging the Gap stories each Monday night at 6.
We will focus on re-entry programs at the detention facility – the largest jail in East Tennessee and will talk with Knox County Sheriff’s Office employees who work directly with inmates to find out how the programs work and how our community can get involved. If your business is hiring former inmates and wants to be featured on our program, email Lori at ltucker@wate.com.)

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