|Train Your Supervisors!|
|By Lt Bob Bramblet|
The hiring or promotion of a new supervisor can be a big deal for both the new Sergeant and the agency. Ideally, the culture of the agency would have allowed the new supervisor to have extensive on the job experience so the transition is smooth. But that’s not always the case and sometimes the newly promoted find themselves adrift in a sea of uncertainty.
When we hire new Officers, they have extensive training through academies and usually undergo a lengthy field training process. Agencies can spend a lot of money on hiring and training a new employee and we want them to succeed. Why then wouldn’t we spend at least some time and effort making sure our new supervisors receive at least some training to provide them with the tools needed for success?
It’s no secret that first line supervisors are one of the most important positions in corrections, and as such, every effort should be made for their field training. At the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, newly promoted supervisors attend the Sergeant’s Academy, a weeklong class introducing them to leadership, teambuilding and issues in management. Department heads explain to the class what they do and how they do it. Corporals are eligible to attend as well in preparation for future promotions.
Lee County has also implemented a new Corrections Sergeant Training Program for newly promoted supervisors in the Corrections Bureau, a structured training for new Sergeants with quantifiable goals and measurements. Topics covered include an introduction to high liability subjects such as inmate releases, facility key control, armory accountability, special details and unforeseen emergencies, incident management and intake issues.
In addition to these high liability topics, other topics include effective use of the performance management plus system for employee evaluations, staffing and overtime issues, dealing with problem employees, logbook documentation and accountability and communication with administrative staff
While this list is not meant to be all inclusive, it shows there is much information to be passed on to new Supervisors. There are many high liability areas that should be handled and passed on in a more formal structure if for no other reason than to mitigate liability on the part of the agency. A program like this would also go a long way in relieving any anxiety of newly promoted Sergeants and give them the right tools for success in their new position.
The American Jail Association is also heavily involved in the training and continuing education of Corrections Sergeants. Through the AJA Professional Development Seminar Calendar, the Association makes it their mission to provide training to jail professionals throughout the country. In this challenging economy, agency budgets have been slashed. The AJA believes training is an essential part of the professional growth of individual employees and the best way to lower liability for agencies.
The National Jail Leadership Command Academy held in Huntsville, Texas is a joint initiative of the American Jail Association, the Correctional Management Institute of Texas, Sam Houston State University and the National Association of Counties. This intensive, week-long leadership class offers advanced training to Corrections Supervisors to prepare them for the future as Facility Administrators. The program has been so successful it has inspired several alumni projects including the South West Florida Jail Leadership Initiative.
The brain child of Major Scott Hall of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Captain Beth Richards of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Susan McCampbell of the Center for Innovative Public Policies, SWFJLI takes Supervisors from several area agencies and lead them through a series of thought provoking problem solving exercises, with each class presented by industry leaders. By the end of the series, participants not only have a deep understanding of supervision, but also of what type of supervisors they are.
When it comes to the training of new supervisors, agencies have many options for any budget. Think outside the box, look for outside resources and don’t be afraid or hesitant to partner up with neighboring agencies to fill the training gap!
Lt Bob Bramblet is a 18 year veteran of the Lee County Sheriffs Office in Florida. He is a Certified Jail Manager (AJA) and a Certified Corrections Supervisor (ACA). Bob is currently assigned as the Intake Division Lieutenant, PREA Compliance Manager and Corrections FTO Manager for LCSO.
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