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10 Tips For New COs

A correctional setting is unlike any other professional environment. Unless you've had friends or family in the field, you wouldn't know what to expect your first day (or first year!)

To offer advice to any newbies and also swap stories, we reached out and asked them people — what do you wish someone had told you before you took a job in corrections? What's one piece of advice you could offer to someone new to the field?

The responses ranged from the disparaging to the hilarious — check out what some of them had to say! 

1. Be nice to the nurses, you never know when you might need them.

2. Learn "Verbal Judo" and when that doesn't work, learn regular judo

3. Your favourite lines will be "no" and "ask your councillor." And when you first start, don't act like as bad ass, because you are not. And don't complain about your job already, it will really annoy the senior staff because you probably don't have anything to complain about yet. Also, a sense of humour will help you through a lot.

4. Always do your job. Your job is to be a snoop…go through everything. The inmates' job is to deceive and deter you from finding something, but we get paid to do it. This job is stressful and gruelling but remember if the stuff hits the fan be the stand-up person and have your fellow officers' back. They may not get yours, but at least you know you are that stand up officer

5. Get all the training you can. Ask questions if you don't know the answer, and sometimes even when you do. There are lots of different positions in corrections, learn as many of them as you can. Then when you find one you really like ask to be assigned to that position.

6. Inmates are not your friends, therefore never (ever) speak to them as if they ever were or ever could be. I don't care if they are your grandparents. An inmate is an inmate is an inmate regardless of the crime or crimes they are in for.

7. Keep a diary. The day-to-day encounters and activities will make great reading in your later years. No one will believe what you write, except those that have walked the walk.

8. Don't say a damn thing to a convict that is behind a door that you wouldn't say to his face unrestrained and out of his cell.

9. Listen to everything and then use common sense. Learn the games of both officers and inmates. And remember that to someone you are a role model, so act like it at all times. Good luck.

10. Put your game face on, leave your home life at home and leave the job at work.


This is by no means an exhaustive list but it sure is a good start for the new guy on the cell block to look over.  Hope you can have some take aways form it. 

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