Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Jail Academy has “been a blessing” to Eau Claire County as it prepares to open its new $59 million jail addition this fall.
CVTC officials worked with Sheriff Ron Cramer to develop a plan that will have 13 jail officers state-certified in time for field training before the jail opens in early August.
“CVTC talks about tailoring programs for people, for the employers of Eau Claire and surrounding areas, and this academy is one of those absolute great things they did for us,” Cramer said. “It has really been a neat deal, the way we were able to work this out collaboratively with CVTC. It has been a blessing.”
The month-long academy is in its second week. Thirteen of the 18 academy students have already been hired by Eau Claire County. Two others are from the Trempealeau County Sheriff’s Department, one is from the Clark County Sheriff’s Department and two others in the class are civilians looking to become certified as jail officers in anticipation of becoming jailers.
Instructors include, in part, members of the Eau Claire and St. Croix County Sheriff departments. Class participants will be allowed to use a cell and the booking area in the Eau Claire Sheriff’s Department for training.
“The way it worked out, the class fell right into place for us,” Cramer said. “CVTC knew when we were going to hire and when we wanted the students to be finished with school in order for us to put them through 14 weeks of field training on the job at the different work posts before the jail opens.”
“The whole model of CVTC, working with local employers and asking them what they can do to help them, is obviously working and worked out tremendously for us,” Cramer said.
“It also worked out well for us to have the classes in town, which saves us money on travel and other expenses if they would have had to travel somewhere else for training,” he added.
“It is so great to have CVTC here for law enforcement training. It is a fabulous resource to the community.”
Eric Anderson, CVTC’s law enforcement program director, was thrilled about the partnership.
“Eau Claire County came to us and asked if it was possible to do this program, with mostly their jail officers in the class, and we said that absolutely it was, and worked together with them,” Anderson said. “The result has been just what they asked for.”
The academy has a maximum of 24 students. The 13 by one agency is the largest that Anderson can recall in any single class.
Academy participants learn proper methods of communication and handling of inmates, including booking and releasing inmates, Anderson said. The participants also develop proper techniques and recognition of inmate safety and health issues, as well as crisis management and fire safety.
Classes are held at CVTC’s Emergency Services Education Center and Manufacturing Education Center. Techniques on how to control an unruly inmate will be held at Freestyle Martial Arts in downtown Eau Claire, Anderson said.
“This has been a cooperative effort all along,” Anderson said about the Sheriff’s Department. “It is a quality program because we have professionals from our region helping us,” including a member of the Eau Claire Fire Department and an instructor in UW-Eau Claire’s nursing program.
Hillary Nuenke, 33, of Eau Claire, is one of the civilians in the academy, hoping to land a jailer position in Eau Claire County when one becomes available.
“I own a cleaning business, and I was told I would be a good candidate to be a jailer because of my personality, and I wanted to try something new,” she said. “It encompasses lots of different aspects of people’s lives, which I like.”
“I think another part of why I want to be involved is pride too, of helping to protect and serve Eau Claire County,” Nuenke added. “I really like the program.”