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Sheriff's Detention Officer: It's not just another job

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She knows it might sound cliché, but Angela Coleman is adamant that her work as a detention officer for the Collin County Sheriff’s Office is not just a job.

 “My heart is in law enforcement,” Officer Coleman says. “And while maybe some people may only equate law enforcement with being on the street, I can promise you detention is definitely a part of law enforcement.

“We are with these folks [inmates] -- every day, 24-7.” 

For the last 12 years, Officer Coleman has handled the care, custody and control of male and female inmates in Collin County from misdemeanor offenders to first-degree felons -- watching over meal times, recreation periods, sick call, housekeeping and contraband searches to name just a few of her tasks. She also trains new officers to do the same.

“No day is ever the same in the jail with new challenges,” she says. “I feel  like I’m helping out, doing something important, and I enjoy being a positive role model to inmates, and new employees. I feel like I’m contributing to the betterment of the organization.”

And the county’s jail isn’t your stereotypical jail. It has met and surpassed jail standards across the state for decades, operating a "direct supervision" facility that uses a podular design for inmate housing  to create a secure and humane environment for both staff and inmates.

Officer Coleman started in law enforcement at a Sheriff’s Office in Canton, Ohio. She moved to Texas in 2001 and joined the Collin County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer. Going back to Ohio 14 months later, she completed her certification as a peace officer, which opened the door to other law enforcement opportunities, such as patrol.

But in late 2003, she moved back to Texas and rejoined the Sheriff’s Office here – again, as a detention officer. She holds her Peace Officer certification in Texas now, too, but prefer working in the jail.

Here’s why: “I really do enjoy this job. I’m not in this for any special recognition. I know what kind of officer I am and I take pride in what I do.”

The list of duties and responsibilities is fairly long.

“Safety and security are our main functions here,” she says. “But we also have to meet inmates’ basic needs...” from  laundry passes, to overseeing day room activities, observing inmate movement, and  answering questions for inmates.

Personal skills also come into play:

“You have to be professional and confident, have good communication skills, be firm and fair, a listener. You have to be proactive, and mindful of different circumstances. Each inmate’s situation is different. You have to have patience. You can't let your personal feelings get in the way of being professional. You treat inmates how you would like to be treated within reason in a jail setting.”

For those who might be up to the challenge, Collin County is accepting applications for detention officers.  It involves shift work, including overnight shifts, and candidates have to understand basic operational, technical, and office processes; have a high school diploma or equivalent; and, be able to earn the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement  (TCOLE) County Jailer Certification within twelve (12) months after assignment. Other basic requirement and details can be found in the link above.