By Dana Simas, CDCR Public Information Officer
Photos by Eric Owens, CDCR staff photographer
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) added more than 200 correctional officers to its ranks as cadets graduated from the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center in Galt, the largest academy graduation in recent history.
Family and friends of the new correctional officers packed the gymnasium Friday, Oct. 31, where the cadets just finished hundreds of hours training for a life in correctional law enforcement.
Academy Administrator Robert Calderon welcomed the cadets and their loved ones and recognized all for the dedication it takes to get through the 16-week academy. Not just the dedication of the cadets who are mentally and physically tested day in and day out, but also the sacrifices made by the families and loved ones of the cadets.
Calderon had the cadets stand up and turn around to face their families and loved ones to also give them a round of applause for the unending dedication it takes to fill in the gaps left when a cadet leaves for the four-month academy.
CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard addressed the new officers and discussed their role in helping create safer prisons.
“There’s a changing culture within CDCR,” Secretary Beard told the graduates. “We can make our prisons safer for all by getting the drugs out, giving inmates better alternatives than joining a gang, and using better tactics to de-escalate situations and avoid using force.”
K-9 officers also graduate
The more than 200 cadets weren’t the only graduates on Friday. Joining the CDCR ranks are also five new K-9 officers – Sadie, Gypsy, Aldo, Wyatt and Pearl. The new K-9 officers and their handlers have shown their skills and are also heading back to the prisons for active duty.
Officer Joe Robbins will be handling Sadie at California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC); Officer Gregory Gridler will be handling Wyatt at LAC; Officer Jeff Hoskins will be handling Gypsy at Centinela State Prison (CEN); Officer Jorge Navarro will be handling Aldo at Calipatria State Prison; and Officer Steve Luker will be handling Pearl at CEN.
All five dogs and their handlers underwent a 160-hour K-9 academy at the Galt training center and graduated as “passive alert” dogs, meaning they sit and stare at an object when they detect the odor of narcotics.
The new K-9s are either Labrador retrievers or German short-haired pointers which will be used as part of CDCR’s Enhanced Drug Interdiction Program to help stem the flow of contraband coming into California’s prisons.
What’s it like to be a cadet? Learn more in our Day in the Life series, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2013/09/day-in-the-life-of-a-cdcr-cadet/