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Detention officer training held in Archuleta County

Staff Writer

SUN photo/Randi Pierce Detention officer Richard Rivera takes part in a scenario dealing with a suicidal inmate (played by an actress) under the watchful eye of an instructor during a detention skills academy last week. More than a dozen local detention officers took part in the 40-hour training taught by 11 officials from around the state.

SUN photo/Randi Pierce
Detention officer Richard Rivera takes part in a scenario dealing with a suicidal inmate (played by an actress) under the watchful eye of an instructor during a detention skills academy last week. More than a dozen local detention officers took part in the 40-hour training taught by 11 officials from around the state.

For the first time in recent memory, every detention officer working in the Archuleta County Detention Center is POST-certified (Peace Officer Standards and Training) in detention skills, following a 40-hour training course held last week.

The training was the first of its kind to be held in Archuleta County. In addition to Archuleta County employees, the training served La Plata County and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

Originally, the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office planned to send one or two detention officers to a training in the Limon area, but the class was cancelled.

That cancellation, paired with the need for several ACDC employees to be certified as detention officers (and the expense of sending employees to training), Undersheriff Rich Valdez and ACDC Captain Randy Yoder worked out with the County Sheriffs of Colorado (CSOC) for a 40-hour POST academy to take place in Pagosa Springs for the benefit of Archuleta County and neighboring detention facilities.

The class was free to host, Valdez said, with the only cost to the county being a minimal amount of overtime for the jail to be staffed during the training. That cost, Valdez said, is minimal compared to the cost of sending staff to trainings that require hotel stays and other expenses.

“I’m excited. I’m proud of them,” Valdez said, adding, “They’re very professional back there and they deserve to have the professional status.”

Thirteen ACDC staff members, as well as others from the area, took part in the mini-academy.

The training, taught by 11 professionals from around the state, dealt with skills related to dealing to mental illness, looked at the legal aspects and rights of detention officers and inmates, and featured instruction on case law, new guidelines for searches and seizures, inmates’ constitutional rights and which rights apply while incarcerated, being uniformly professional, and teamwork and morale, Yoder said.

“I think with any kind of knowledge, it’s power,” Yoder said. “It increases morale.”

Yoder said several ACDC staff members have expressed excitement since taking part in the mini-academy, and a staff meeting is being planned to discuss what changes might be useful for the facility.

“Education is necessary,” Yoder said. “You avoid a lot of liabilities with knowledge.”

Yoder noted he is also thankful to CSOC and the instructors who traveled to provide the training, and is pleased that Archuleta County was able to show off the area and newly-remodeled Emergency Operations Center, where the training took place.

randi@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on May 30, 2013.