James V. Allred Unit addresses recruitment problems

Police departments across the country are honoring current, past, and fallen officers this week.
Recruiting officers, however, is not always easy.
Those who work with the Wichita County prison at the James V. Allred Unit said the job as a correctional officer can be rewarding but it is a challenge when hiring people.
Ernie Cooke has worked at the James V. Allred unit for 22 years.
He said the staff is something special.

It's a brotherhood and sisterhood, said Cooke.  Especially here at the Allred Unit."

Thursday, there was a lunch to honor those 600 staff members.
The warden, Kendall Richerson is proud. Richerson became the senior warden in October. 

It's challenging but they make my job so easy, said Richerson.

Even with hundreds of employees, Cooke still sees a problem when it comes to recruiting new officers.
One of the reasons is something he calls a common misconception.

"Well it's not (like) the movies, said Cooke.  We feel (their interpretation) is the correctional staff has to be a little corrupt on one side or be very mean on the other side of it and that's the furthest from the truth."

Another reason the unit sees what may keep people from applying is the danger of the job.
Last year 3 correctional officers were killed in Texas, one of them was murdered.
Cooke said while there is that threat, they cannot stay concerned about it.

"It does happen, said Cooke.  It doesn't happen every day like you would think. We have 3,000 offenders here.  We have over 600 staff members here every day so things are going to happen.  Not on a grand scale but just little one on ones or disagreements and then we handle it from there."

Richerson hopes more people will learn about the opportunities to be a part of the staff he has grown to love.

"They do such a spectacular job, said Richerson.  They're dedicated and they're committed to the unit.  I just get to come in a be a cheerleader."

Friday at the Allred Unit there will be a memorial to honor the fallen officers across the state. That event will begin at 10:00 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.

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