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Division of Corrections looking to hire more correctional officers

(WTAP)
Published: Oct. 1, 2019 at 7:07 PM EDT
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There’s been a shortage of correctional officers in West Virginia, but new hiring efforts by the Division of Corrections may be bringing that number down.

Captain Howard Stoffel and Lieutenant Maranda Quinn are West Virginia correctional officers. They are working to find new recruits for the Division of Corrections and part of their strategy for finding new recruits is to change public perception of correctional officers.

“I think a lot of times there’s a misconception about corrections and we never really been out in the community until recently. And actually we’re changing those misconceptions. It is a career. It’s not just a job. It’s a profession and every day when we put this uniform on we have pride,” said Quinn.

“We’re not in the spotlight like police officers are, law enforcement, whereas we’re always behind a fence somewhere. So what we’re doing, we get a chance to go out in public to give away what correctional officers actually are. It’s not like what you see on TV. Our job is a very professional job. We’re correctional officers, not guards,” said Stoffel.

Stoffel said one misconception about correctional officers is their attitude toward prisoners.

“We’re the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Our goal, when somebody comes through, make them a better person than when they first came in. It’s all about rehabilitation. Offer them programming classes, if they don’t have a high school diploma, we offer G.E.D. s to them, we offer college programs, we offer trade schools to them,” said Stoffel.

On top of trying to change public perception, one of the recruiters’ strategies to find new officers is to hold hiring events like the one in Parkersburg on Tuesday. The event garnered multiple new hires and gave officers a chance to be out in the spotlight.

“We do everything in one step. You come in for the application process, interview, the whole nine basically. You come in and do your physical exam, agility, your analysis test and you walk out with a start date,” said Stoffel.

Captain Stoffel said that in the last eight months, the shortage in West Virginia went from around 525 correctional officers needed to around 300 needed. Stoffel said that better pay may be helping their recruiting efforts, but Quinn believes that better pay has come with better public perception.

“The communities are what support us to get those raises and that was another reason to try to change those misconceptions because the public is who supports us and who votes and gets our raises for us and we’re just appreciative of the public for that,” said Quinn.

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