Jail officers trained as Smith plans for accreditation

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County officials saluted two local corrections officers for being the first at the Walker County Jail to undertake training, as the jail advances to becoming accredited within a year. 

Walker County Commission Chairman Jerry Bishop recently presented certificates to corrections officers Jennifer Meeks and and Katherine Clingan of the Walker County Jail for completing the requirements for the Alabama Jail Training Academy (AJTA) and its safety incentive programs. 

Bishop presented the certificates at Monday's commission meeting. 

Kenya Howard, coordinator of member and administrative services for the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, wrote to Bishop on Jan. 27 thanking him of his support of the AJTA. The academy is a joint effort between the Association of County Commissions of Alabama and the Alabama Sheriff's Association since 2015. 

The program offers jail training to correctional officers, as well as to other jail staff, Howard said.

"To date, nearly 1,000 correctional officers and jail employees have taken at least one AJTA course and more than 330 have successfully graduated," Howard said. 

By completing the program in September 2019, Clingan and Meeks earned a certificate of completion and a lapel pin from the National Institute of Jail Operations, whose requirements were also met with courses, she said.

"We believe it will encourage other officers to participate in this important educational program if the county commission recognized this accomplishment during one of its upcoming meetings," Howard said.

The two officers were also given a certificate from the county, signed by Bishop, recognizing their achievement. Bishop also thanked Smith and jail administrator Richard  Calloway.

Smith thanked the commission in helping to put on high quality training for correction officers, also noting the state partnerships. He also thanked commissioners for helping the sheriff as he is working toward another accreditation. 

"We're about eight to 12 months from having our jail recognized as an accredited jail in the State of Alabama, which is huge," Smith said, noting local officials are in the third and final phase toward that recognition. The National Institute of Jail Operations is helping local officials with policies to make sure the jail is in compliance to be accredited. 

County Administrator Robbie Dickerson noted the training is also part of the county's safety program. Bishop said, "At one time, it wasn't safe to work over there. I went through it. But it is now." 

Bishop and district commissioners congratulated the officers in the course of the meeting.