New Prison Officers
Eight men and five women have successfully completed eight weeks' training prior to taking up their posts as the newest officers in Her Majesty's Cayman Islands Prison Service.
Officers Cornell Bartley, Shawn Bazil, John Clark, James Buop, Khalil Mejia, Elizabeth Horton, Donovan Newland, Tashena Parks, Nolan Shaw, Animata Shepherd, Omeil Smith, Cherine Usherwood and Nattoya White received their graduation certificates at a ceremony at the Arts and Recreation Centre in Camana Bay on Tuesday, 22 July 2014.
All the new officers received their certificates from the Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, MBE, while top performers received awards from the Acting Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson, Cert. Hon. and Prison Director Neil Lavis. Ministry Chief Officer Eric Bush and Deputy Chief Officer Kathryn Dinspel-Powell pinned the officers and fixed the signature epaulettes to their uniforms.
Awards for topping control and restraint training went to Officers Bartley, Bazil, Newland, Parks, Shaw, Smith and White.
The top four students have been promoted to be Prison Officers while the remaining nine are taking their posts as Operational Support Grade (OSG) officers, explained Prison HR Manager Raquel Solomon.
Prior to the ceremony inside, all the graduates demonstrated on the lawn outside the drills they learned during training. The Premier and Mr. Lavis inspected a guard of honour presented by the graduates which was headed by Ms Parks.
The top drill awards went to Officers Newland (first place), Parks (second) and White (third). Officer Newland also bagged the Top Recruit award, sponsored by the Prison Welfare Association. The most improved award went to Officer Parks. Finally, the Team Spirit award went to Officer Bazil for maintaining unity and building camaraderie among his fellow recruits.
Addressing the graduates, Mr. Lavis stated that based on his 32 years of experience in prison service, he could assert the corrections arena provides an amazing job because "with all its ups and downs, we make a difference".
Noting that they would have to take care of the "most difficult and damaged in society", he emphasised, "Your training is the start of a process where you will have to deal with men and women who arrive with us when everything else has failed."
"Mental health, sexual offence, drug and alcohol abuse, poor literacy and numeracy and poor decision making skills … the list goes on. Society will expect you to deal with these things," he continued.
He pointed out that it takes a special type of person to deal with holding these individuals securely, assessing their needs, lowering the risk and helping them re-enter society to lead law-abiding lives. "Skills like this cannot be learned on an eight-week course. Those sorts of skills have to be within you. The course develops that skill and gives you the technical and legal knowledge," he added.
Mr. Lavis also lauded the graduates for having been chosen as the top 13 among the 269 people who applied, as well as for completing the training, passing assessments each week and finally, a challenging end of course exam, he commented. All obtained over 90% marks, with three getting perfect scores, he said.
Such achievement required commitment by the graduates, who put in hard work, but also their families and friends, who deserve gratitude, he added. The new recruits had also been endorsed by the prison's Inmate Council, he revealed.
Speaking on behalf of her fellow recruits, Ms White highlighted that Training Manager Steve Hansen used the easiest style of teaching to deliver them the training material. "There wasn't one day when we weren't excited about going to training," she revealed. They had understood that their job is no ordinary task since they would be called to "help rebuild humanity", she commented.
They had also learned that they would be responsible for the care, custody and humane treatment of incarcerated persons who depend upon them. "How we treat them is paramount," she said. She added, "They will make the job difficult and frustrating at times. We will get angry at them, annoyed with them and perhaps even threatened by them. It is our responsibility to remain professional at all times, especially when they are the most difficult."
The officers are also responsible for protecting and supporting one another and working as a team to achieve the prison strategic plan.
She underscored the new officers were fully aware of the prison service mandate to rehabilitate prisoners who can lead successful, productive and law-abiding lives outside the prison environment. On behalf of the class, she promised that they would commit to decent treatment of all prisoners, staff and visitors; to honest, moral and ethical service to Her Majesty the Queen; to loyalty to the mission, vision and mandates of the prison service and the Director; and to striving for excellence in everything they do. "Decency, integrity, commitment, excellence - DICE- it's what we are about," Ms White added.
Several inmates were present at the ceremony having been involved in setting up the event. Visit the CI Government page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/caymangovinfo?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark for more pictures.
For further information contact: Bina Mani