Corrections grads learning ropes

Akeya Lawson shakes hands with Maj. Robert Chapman after receiving her diploma as a corrections officer at Santa Fe Community College's Institute of Public Safety on Monday.

DAVID ZENTZ/Special to The Sun
Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 1, 2003 at 12:42 a.m.
Twenty-three future detention officers graduated Monday from Santa Fe Community College's Institute of Public Safety, and what was the first thing Benjamin Tillson and his fellow recruits did?
"We decided to go up and down the elevator a few times," he said.
That was after 3 months of being restricted to using stairwells and rear entrances - never elevators. The ride capped off an intense, 40-hour-a-week training session.
The recruits - now detention officer trainees - will provide needed replacements and additions to the staff of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office's jail staff, helping lower the officer-to-inmate ratio, Lt. Jim Troiano said.
"These new officers are coming on board to fill the slots of officers who have retired or moved on to other positions," he said.
Tillson, a 21-year-old Gainesville resident, said he always wanted to be a police officer as a child, and after a year working as a detention assistant at the Alachua County jail, he applied to the program.
The graduates are all employed by the Alachua County jail and start WednesdayJuly 2, working alongside other detention officers and "learning the ropes" of inmate care and custody control, Troiano said. In July, they will take the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's State Officer Certification exam. As corrections officers, their starting salary in Alachua County will be $28,500.
Of the 25 that began the course, two dropped out before the end, program adviser Louis Kalivoda said. All 23 of the remaining students passed the final exam.
The detention officers received training in legal issues, interpersonal communications, correctional operations, communications, emergency preparedness, defensive tactics, firearms and first responder training.

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