Fifty-four men and women will graduate from the Rhode Island Department of Correction’s Correctional Officer Training Academy Class 77 on Friday, January 16th, at 2 p.m. at Rhode Island College’s Sapinsley Hall in Providence.
The traditional “Inspection of the Graduates” by Corrections Director Ashbel T. Wall II will take place at 1:45 p.m. and the official ceremony will begin at 2. Following an invocation by RIDOC Chaplain Martha Paone and a welcome by Ellen Evans Alexander, Assistant Director of Administration, the Director will deliver a brief address. Attorney General Patrick Lynch has been invited to give the keynote. Awards and certificates will be presented, the class valedictorian will share remarks, the oath of office and certificates will be presented by Director Wall, and finally the graduates will be presented and accepted by Director Wall, Assistant Director for Institutions & Operations Nancy Bailey, and Paul Kennedy, Chief of Recruitment and Training.
During the arduous nine-week Academy, participants underwent CPR certification, weapons qualification, defensive tactics instruction, classroom instruction on topics such as the law as it relates to Correctional Officers and communications skills, and weekly exams. Twenty-one of the members of the new class of Correctional Officers will begin shadowing more senior officers for a two- week period starting on Sunday, the 18th.The rest will be placed on a waiting list and called up as officers retire.
This year’s graduating class includes 13 (24%) women and 41 (76%) men and 27% minorities. There were 2,240 applicants during the recruitment period last spring and only 2% earned the right to begin training with the class in the late fall. In his remarks to the class on its first day of training, Director Wall noted that they had persevered in “what is probably one of the toughest admissions processes anywhere in the nation, harder than getting into any college in the U.S. including Harvard and Yale.”
Applicants had to pass a Director’s interview panel, a video and written exam, a physical fitness test, a criminal history check, an extensive background check, a medical review, and a psychological and drug test in order to make it into the class. Sixty started in mid-November, and six either dropped out or were disqualified after training began.
“Our standards have only gotten tougher over the years,” notes Director Wall. You are the most qualified class in the Department’s history because you had to pass the toughest standards.”
Each graduate is allowed to invite a small number of guests to the ceremony due to space limitations. Members of the press who wish to attend should contact Tracey Z. Poole, Chief of Information and Public Relations, at (401) 462-2609 or (401) 639-1170.