Oklahoma Department of Corrections staff went back to the classroom this week to learn how to de-escalate conflicts behind bars.
The mandatory training will help them develop skills in specifically handling racial tensions.
DOC officials said this training is also timely as prisoners are more agitated from being on lockdown due to COVID-19.
Former law officer Linda Webb created the Racial Intelligence Training and Encouragement course (RITE).
“Racial intelligence means to not only take care of yourself as the individual,” RITE Academy Owner Linda Webb said. “But also, when you go to engage with others, you’re going to treat everybody fairly.”
Webb said just like anyone, corrections officers take biases and outside pressures to work, creating undue tension with inmates.
“So you need to dig deep inside yourself,” Webb said. “Find out what pisses you off. What are your hot buttons? What makes you mad?”
Unfortunately, on-the-job emotions on the streets or behind bars can have deadly consequences.
“As law enforcement officers, it is vital,” Oklahoma Department of Corrections Training member David Edelman said. “We’ve seen stuff in the media and in the past lately that if you’re not under check what can happen. Someone could pass away from you not being in the right state of mind.”
That is why there were also Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers and CLEET staff in the class. Webb urges law officers to seek help if they are bringing outside stress to the job.
“Recognize the fact that you’re hurting inside,” Webb said. “And go get the necessary help before you take it out on the public.”
The training started with DOC upper command and trainers. It will then be a mandatory course for corrections officers and probation staff.