Controlling Fear as a Correctional Officer
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s tip is for Correctional staff and it deals with controlling your fear in a custody setting. The key to controlling fear is understanding it.
Teaching the mind and the body to use practiced and effective techniques in responding to sudden danger is the key to overcoming fear. Replace what you fear with what you know.
I watched a video from Rikers Island showing an officer appearing to stand back and watch while a fellow officer is beaten by six inmates. Even after backup arrives, the officer does not intervene to help stop the inmates or help remove the attacking inmates from the scene. This is a major concern!
Listen folks, the possibility of a violent attack on an officer is ever present. You have to be alert and ready to assist fellow officers at any given moment. Your life may depend on your partner’s physical training and mental fortitude. You must have the ability to intervene and protect your coworker if an inmate attack occurs.
Several studies show that fear is the number one reason that an officer hesitates to engage in a dangerous situation. Fear is a completely normal human emotion we often experience at the subconscious level. Officers can fear physical injury or even death and totally freeze up and not react. Uncontrolled fear brings about performance failure.
Another cause of performance failure for officers is the fear of administrative action. Officers fear discipline and the possibility of lawsuits following a use of force incident. Consequently, there may be a reluctance to use force, even in situations where it is 100% justified and lawful. These hesitations can result in injuries or worse when an inmate attacks an officer.
Fear often comes into play when the mind has nowhere else to go when faced with danger. This is where training comes in. Teaching the mind and the body to use practiced and effective techniques in responding to sudden danger is the key to overcoming fear. Replace what you fear with what you know.
It’s up to you to know how to use appropriate force. It’s up to you to know the rules. It’s up to you to develop your skills. It’s up to you to increase your knowledge. When it’s time to react, you will instinctively respond with what you know and not be hamstrung by fear.
Your agency can help with Solid, Realistic, Ongoing, Verifiable Training.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off.