New jail emergency response team reducing violent incidents
Seventeen use-of-force incidents were reported in the jail during second shift in 2009. Compared to the 42 that happened in 2008, that accounts for about a 60 percent drop, according to Rock County Sheriff’s Office reports.
The decrease occurred after the Correctional Emergency Response Team started responding to jail fights and violent inmates in 2009.
After the team was created, inmates noticed and began behaving better, Capt. Erik Chellevold said.
“When this team comes marching down the hallway, it’s an intimidation scenario,” Chellevold said. “It didn’t take long for people to know we meant business.”
Sheriff Bob Spoden wanted the team because a trained unit was needed to deal with younger and more physically fit inmates, including gang members. He said the team makes the jail safer for inmates and officers.
Officers previously had to deal with violent inmates through hand-to-hand force, Spoden said. Officers have suffered knee injuries, broken noses, busted elbows and other ailments because of confrontations.
Officers on the team can wear protective equipment, use pepper ball guns and carry shields, Sgt. Aaron Burdick said. They are trained and have passed a physical test.
Four officers attended an instructor’s school so they could train others in Rock County, Burdick said. The local team includes 16 officers.
On Thursday, officers were being trained on the pepper ball guns. They were firing at targets in full protective gear, and they also shot each other to learn what getting shot and breathing in chemicals felt like.
Officers are happy to have more tools and training to do their jobs, Burdick said.
“It’s definitely a morale booster for the whole jail,” he said.
Team members will be added to the third shift in the future. They also will be trained to use Tasers.
“It establishes a level of security that inmates and officers understand,” Spoden said.