Are correctional officers trained similarly to police officers?
A question recently posted to Quora asks, "are correctional officers trained similarly to police officers?" Deputy Sheriff Cameron McConnell with Mississippi County, Mo., gives his response below. Add your own thoughts in the comments.
Matters on the state.
I was both a police officer and a corrections officer and I would say emphatically in the state of Missouri they are equal in the amount of training. But one must remember that each is being trained for a different type of job.
While both are trained in self defense, the LEO is trained to deal with the possibility of handguns and other weapons that a CO is not. At the same time, a CO is trained to deal specifically for multiple attackers using edged weapons, and to be more improvisational in how they respond.
LEO's usually have the benefit of dealing with the general public with a small minority that actually may wish to do them harm, while a CO is locked up in a prison with over a thousand convicts that they know for certain are at least a felon, and the majority of the time are dangerous at that. LEO's train with firearms more exclusively than CO's while CO's tend to train with pepper spray and batons more often; it depends on what part of the job you are talking about, both groups use all of these tools.
The jobs, while using some of the exact same methodology, are radically different, and therefore how they are trained, and what they focus on to do the job is different as well. It is not that one training is more extensive than the other, as I know that LEO's on average get around 600 hrs starting out, but are only required to do around 40 more every three years, while the CO may only get 300 hrs of training starting out, but receives 40 to 120 hrs per year, every year. The main difference there is that the LEO is not assumed to get as much "on the job" training as the CO, and the CO's job is just continuous with the amount of training they receive per year, including extra training for everything like special teams, emergency response and special weapons, so by the time both have hit their third year it is about equal.
Both have to be problem solvers, both have to work with their own "public," both have to present themselves to their own populations in a way that allows them to get the job done, and yes, both of them work the exact same issues, even "domestics."
So to claim that one has more extensive training, or that one is more professional is a fallacy. You just see one more often in the public eye than the other.