Wyoming Department of Corrections changing hiring practices

0
57

Wyo4News staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

February 2, 2024 — Staffing shortages are affecting nearly every field across the country, and Wyoming is still feeling its effects. Nationwide, state correctional occupations (including correctional officers [CO], administrative staff, and probation/parole agents) have seen a steady decline in the number of full-time staff. Since 2019, there has been an average decrease of ten percent in the number of staff that work within correctional occupations nationwide. Wyoming’s decline is greater than the national average.

What has the WDOC been doing to correct these staffing challenges?

In an effort to improve recruiting numbers, the WDOC has implemented the following substantive changes:

  1. Changed the Starting Pay for COs
  2. Pay increased from $20.66 to $25.26. This new figure brings the WDOC closer to our peer organizations.
  3. Changed the Physical Fitness Standard. o
  4. The physical standard is now more in line with the requirements of a CO and has less intensive physical requirements.
  5. Changed the recruiting process for Correctional Officers
  6. Prior to this, the CO hiring process took, on average, between two (2) and three (3) months. This commonly caused applicants to drop off and begin work elsewhere. This lengthy process includes all the testing requirements from P.O.S.T (Peace Officer Standard and Training) and PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act). The new process requires only the basic interview and background process to be completed prior to hiring. The other assessments can be done post-hire as long as they are completed prior to POST certification. This process has allowed new officers to be hired in as little as three business days.

What do the numbers say?

WDOC has seen an increase in CO applications agency-wide. Comparing the last three months of 2022 to the last three months of 2023, the WDOC has received 119 applications, which is around six (6) times higher than the 19 received in 2022. For more comparison, in December 2023, the WDOC received 48 applications while it received only four (4) applications in December 2022. That is twelve times more applications than the previous year.

The amount of CO academy attendees has increased three times when January 2023 attendees are compared to January 2024 numbers. The WDOC has also rehired five (5) employees as a result of the December 2023 changes; however, these COs did not need to attend the academy because they retained their P.O.S.T Certification. While there is still a large number of vacancies, these changes are enabling the WDOC to fill and train new staff at a rate which in turn benefits the inmates, and the agency alike.

What does training and certification look like after hiring?

COs will start their training and certification process as soon as they are hired. COs will attend the closest academy to their start date. The academy runs between nine to ten weeks long, and upon graduation, the CO will be P.O.S.T. certified. After the academy, COs will participate in a nine to twelve-week field training program. This is where the COs learn the job at their facility. The program can be accelerated due to field training officer availability and the CO’s ability to learn the job. Certain thresholds have to be met prior to the CO moving through the different phases and completing the field training portion.

For more information on employment with the WDOC or to apply, please visit https://wdoc.jobs/ or https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/wyoming?keywords=copr. Or email them at [email protected].