What would you do if you had to break up a fight between inmates? Or if an inmate was threatening self-harm? Or asking you to bend rules of the in exchange for a favor? These are all situations that a corrections officer could face upon arriving for the first day of work at a jail.
Students in the criminal justice program at the Canyons Technical Education Center put their skills and knowledge to the test when they faced simulations of real-life jail incidents that were done by “actors” who were given direction on how to talk and act by local law-enforcement agencies.
The simulations, held Oct. 10-11, 2019 at CSD’s Crescent View building, 11150 S. 300 East, were eye-opening for students who are in the class and are mulling a career in law-enforcement.
The focus of the exercise was to help the 17- and 18-year-old students see first-hand what kind of situations they would need to handle in the real world of criminal justice.
The groups of students were asked to de-escalate physical and verbal situations between inmates, handle issues that could require medical assistance, and face inmates who are expressing suicidal tendencies.
“We’ve never done this kind of a simulation before,” says instructor Edwin Lehauli, “but we want our students to get a pretty good look at what it is like to be a corrections officer.”
One simulation caught Alta senior Braedyn Sendizik by surprise. He said he wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the actors playing the inmates. “They kept trying to draw me in and I got too drawn in instead of shutting it down” and insisting that directives be followed, he said.
“I learned from it,” he said, “and next time I will know better.”
Fellow Alta student Garrett Boland, who is eyeing a career as a lawyer, faced a simulation that required him to get inmates in their cells at the end of a day. “I learned to be aware of just about everything,” he said, noting that his instructor had tipped the class off to manipulation techniques often used by inmates so students would be prepared in the simulations.
“This definitely taught me a lot. It’s a learning experience for sure but it’s also a lot of fun,” Sendizik said. “It’s like the real world. You have be ready for everything. You have to know what you are walking into.”