The more than 300 personnel of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office protect a population of about 93,000 in central Florida and run a 521-bed detention center. The agency started using Lexipol’s CorrectionsOne Academy in 2020 through a partnership with Securus Technologies.
Like many correctional facilities, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) struggled to conduct training in a cost-effective manner. “We had monthly in-service training modules in our training room,” says Major Reace Thompson, who commands the agency’s detention center. “We had to schedule each of the four shifts to come in on a specific date.” Not only did this cause scheduling headaches, but the agency racked up costs in staff overtime required to cover the positions of the shift attending training. “The costs were much higher than we wanted them to be,” Major Thompson says.
Other aspects of this traditional approach to training contributed to the costs. The instructors were responsible for keeping curriculum up to date, and any new courses had to be developed in house. In addition, the agency used a manual process to track training completion. “We had the old sign-in sheets to show they were at the training,” Major Thompson says. “We would have to file all those sheets in file cabinets and keep them for a long time in order to be able to respond to requests about whether a specific staff member completed training.” The process of retrieving records upon request was time- consuming and cumbersome.
The solution to the SCSO’s training woes came in the form of a partnership between Lexipol’s CorrectionsOne Academy and Securus Technologies, which provides inmate phone and video visitation services to correctional facilities across the country. CorrectionsOne Academy provides a full-service online training platform for correctional facilities, featuring 550 online courses and videos as well as tools to monitor and track training completion, compliance and license renewal. The partnership allows facilities using Securus for inmate communication services to add CorrectionsOne Academy’s online training through an approved vendor rather than having to go through a separate proposal and approval process. This allows facilities across the country to quickly combine Lexipol’s industry-leading online training platform with Securus’ market- leading technology and communication solutions.
“We were approached by Securus and asked whether we would be interested in CorrectionsOne Academy,” Major Thompson says. “The first thing that came to my mind is we’re paying all this overtime and we’ve been doing it for years. It’s much easier to do the training online because the staff can do it at their posts while they’re working. We jumped right on the opportunity.”
The rollout to staff was seamless, Major Thompson says: “It’s really easy to use; it just took a couple emails to our personnel to get them logged on and using the platform. The CorrectionsOne Academy staff are really easy to work with and everything flowed easily.”
Not long after deploying CorrectionsOne Academy to staff, the agency saw an added benefit. The COVID-19 pandemic brought in-person training to a halt. But with online training in place, SCSO’s correctional staff continued training without interruption.
CorrectionsOne Academy has helped the SCSO cost-effectively train its staff and modernize how it manages training. “As an administrator, I like the reporting features,” Major Thompson says. “I can track my staff, see what classes they’re taking and their progress in completing assignments. And I like that we don’t have to keep the paper logs and sign-in sheets. Now I can run a report on a staff member and access their training records instantly. It’s a lot easier.”
The platform also provides the benefit of hundreds of courses ready to go. “We’re spending less time planning for the training, because it’s just a matter of assigning training to staff,” Major Thompson says. “Recently we assigned a course on report writing, because that’s always a problem area. And we’re planning on using the Academy for cultural diversity training.” Many of the courses offered are approved for state credit through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which helps SCSO staff meet training mandates.
CorrectionsOne Academy staff stay on top of challenges facing public safety agencies and issue new courses and updates accordingly, including a set of courses on COVID-19 released early in the pandemic. “We had all our sworn and civilian personnel take the COVID-19 courses right away—that was very helpful,” Major Thompson says.
All these features add up to significant cost savings. “CorrectionsOne Academy has helped us streamline our training as an agency, and we’ve definitely saved money,” Major Thomson says. “Four shifts of 20 people each month adds up to a lot over the course of the year. I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial CorrectionsOne Academy has been to reducing our overtime costs.”