DATE: Monday, September 22, 2014
SUBJECT: Confinement Officer Training School
CONTACT: Lt. Noah Robinson
AUTHORITY: Sheriff Dave Wedding

The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office is proud to announce that a new Confinement Officer Training School (which is referred to internally as COTS) began today with six, new confinement officers for Vanderburgh County and one new officer from the Warrick County Sheriff’s Office.

The first week of the three week training program is the state-mandated Jail Officer Training Course. In 2006, the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board approved the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office as a regional training site for this 40 hour course, which is required of all newly hired jail officers during their first year. In early 2009 the Sheriff’s Office administration identified a need for the standardized training of newly hired confinement officers. Although not mandated to do so, the Sheriff’s Office expanded the state course, re-naming the combined course as the Confinement Officer Training School (COTS).

The COTS program is designed to train new confinement officers to maintain the security, safety and operation of our facility. The program not only provides for the formalized training of new confinement officers, but also allows for the ongoing training of current confinement officers. The program is modeled after our Sheriff’s Deputy Training School (DTS) and incorporates many of the same teaching and evaluation methodologies. Prior to being hired, all Vanderburgh County confinement officer candidates undergo a rigorous hiring process, which includes: a written exam, oral interviews, background investigation, drug screening, physical exam and a psychological evaluation.

In the first week, the new officers are instructed in subjects such as: ethics, standards of conduct, report writing, jail operations, physical security, searches, evidence gathering, sexual misconduct, response to physical resistance, blood borne pathogens, first aid, cultural awareness, suicide prevention, mental illness and legal issues. Vanderburgh County officers are then provided an additional 80 hours of structured classroom and practical training, which includes topics such as: housing unit supervision, gang identification, defensive and physical tactics, record keeping and practical scenarios.

Upon completion of the classroom training, each new Vanderburgh County confinement officer is assigned to a specially trained confinement officer known as a Field Training Officer (FTO) who serves as a trainer, evaluator and mentor to the new officer. The FTO acts as a guide while acclimating the officer to his or her new role. As the weeks go by, the FTO allows the new officer to perform an increasing number of tasks without assistance, until eventually the new officer is able to function without any guidance. From start to finish the entire COTS program and FTO training period typically lasts 10 weeks.

Sheriff Dave Wedding explained, “Our confinement officers are sworn law enforcement officers while on-duty at the confinement center. Just like an officer who patrols a beat, our confinement officers patrol the housing units that make up the corrections and detention sections of the Sheriff’s Office. Our confinement officers make arrests for offenses observed or reported to them, restrain violent individuals and file required reports. This level of responsibility demands a trained and professional staff.”

In the short period of time the COTS program has been in place, the program has racked up some impressive numbers:
• Four (4) graduates have gone on to become Supervisors at the confinement center
• Three (3) graduates have gone on to become Field Training Officers
• Twenty (20) graduates have gone on to become police officers (9 of which are now deputy Sheriff’s Deputies)

Confinement Sergeant Jeffrey Titus (who has been involved with the COTS program since inception) stated, “These impressive numbers show not only is the Sheriff’s Office hiring quality employees, but that our COTS program is developing these individuals as professionals and allowing them to meet their potential.”

Sheriff Dave Wedding added, “I want to thank every member of my staff who helped assemble our Confinement Officer Training School program from the ground up. Thanks to the hard work of these dedicated individuals, new employees of this agency (as well as surrounding agencies) can and will benefit from the solid foundation this program provides.”

At any given time the Sheriff’s Office houses over 500 inmates and nearly 100 work release participants within the confines of a 156,722 square foot facility. As an Indiana Law Enforcement Academy accredited provider, the Sheriff’s Office accepts applications from outside agencies to attend the Confinement Officer Training School at our facility.

Pictured above: New officers attend first day COTS orientation

Pictured above: New officer attends first day COTS orientation