Monday, February 20, 2006

Typical Day- Medium Security, Swing Shift

Up too early with a nasty shining unshielded atomic fire blazing in through the window. Damn sun. Drag my lazy ass out of bed and pull something on. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Growl "Hi" at the kids or wife if they happen to be awake. Eat something, reading a book(currently "Protecting the Gift"). Have more coffee. Take a shower. Have more coffee. Think about doing kata on the deck. Spend some time talking to the kids or wife, depending on schedule. More coffee. Sex. More coffee. Tease the cats. Get my gear together for work. Strap on a gun. Heat up a cup of coffee to go. Kiss family good bye. Pet dogs goodbye.

Drive. Listen to a book on tape (currently "Elizabeth the First, CEO").

Arrive at work early. Answer a bunch of stupid questions. Check the reader board. Find out from day shift how much stuff they left for me to finish. Make a list if it's more than three issues. Put on a uniform. Put on the "inside the jail" belt. Go to briefing. Sit in briefing as the OIC tries to be entertaining. When the OIC asks, "Sergeant, do you have anything to add?" say, "Can I please just go to work?" Go to work. Head to the office to check e-mails. Get halfway through and the back-up call comes over the radio. Sprint- it's always at the other end of the building, never in my area... I still get there first or close to it. Read the scene- other inmates are slow to bunk in, trying to watch. "It's over!" I yell it and the fighters jump apart like they're on strings. Deputies arrive, cuff and remove the fighters. 70 or so inmates are watching from their bunks in the open dorm. I walk into the middle of the dayroom, take a seat and sprawl. I look at any inmates who aren't seated and they sit down. Then I look at any that are still talking and they quiet down. If the inmates behaved well, I check with the sergeant for this area- if he has it under control, I leave. If it doesn't seem to be calmed down, I stay in the seat in the middle of the inmate area and have a little talk with the dorm- not loud, but I can project. Then I leave.

Decide to do the e-mail later and wander through my dorms. Six dorms, 10 officers, 420 inmates. I talk to each officer and spend time in all the inmate areas, watching movies with them from their chairs. I sit for awhile to watch chess games or scrabble. One inmate asks, "Why do you always watch chess, sarge?" "I've always wanted to meet a criminal mastermind. Just figured this was my best option." The inmate laughs. In the course of this wander, every one of my inmates will have a chance to talk to me and I will listen. There are real and legitimate problems and I'll fix those if I can... and I'll tease the ones who are gaming. If someone is breaking a minor rule, I'll stare and they will fix it, no words said.

Done. Check my watch. Not much of the shift is over, not enough and I've done everything in the job description.

Finish the e-mail. Back up call, medical back-up this time. Not in my area again. Don't sprint for these. Female this time, having a seizure. The rest of the dorm is buzzing, high-pitched, talking. I check the casualty, then quiet down the dorm- "Have a seat, ladies, you look like a bunch of damn prarie dogs." They laugh and sit down, then grow quiet. Medical staff shows up much later and treats the patient in the room. Seizures are common in jail. I check my watch. Rush hour is mostly over outside, so I check out a set of car keys and go to my locker for the vest and the "Outside the jail" belt- weapon, OC, Taser, ASP, all the toys and go check on the deputies watching inmates in local hospitals. That can be quick or take a while.

Back to the barn, put away the outside belt and vest, put on the jail belt, turn in the car keys. Occassionally something has happened in my area as soon as I left. Take care of any paperwork that has generated while I was gone.

Wander through the dorms again, following up on anything from the last trip. This second trip through a night is probably the biggest reason things are so quiet in my areas. Wander, watch, talk. Coach deputies, listen to the inmates in the psych ward (did I mention that 140 of my inmates have moderate to severe psychological or developmental problems?) defuse tension.

Check my watch. Check e-mail. Think about making coffee. Update journal. Write. The radio is quiet. Check my watch again. Go down to meet the night shift. Anything happen? Not a damn thing. Absolutely no point in having a sergeant at all. West end was quiet as death.

Typical day, doing nothing ... but I never did have lunch.

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