As a former sergeant at a correctional facility, I struggled constantly with trying to find ways to get through to newer officers (many of them young enough to be my own children) what to watch for in the way of offender behavior. We showed them state videos and had handouts–which are not that effective as learning tools. I know this because I am also a certified teacher. The officers (especially those in the late teens through late 20′s age group) need visuals and things that they can connect to in order to fully contemplate what it is that they should be watching for.
I always recommended one movie to my officers. That one is “Undisputed II: Last Man Standing“. In this particular film, Ben Cross plays an offender named Steve Parker. He plays the part of the offender who is often bullied and such brilliantly, but the part that got my attention the most was the signs he was putting out prior to hanging himself. This actor pulls every sign off to a “T” and if you don’t believe me, watch it–even if it isn’t the genre you prefer. This movie is set in a Russian prison, but the corruption and such that it deals with is portrayed so realistically, it can also point out to officers what to watch for in others as well.
The fact that this is a drama that is well acted also makes it interesting enough that the officers can actually take what they learn in training and see everything in a new way. By recommending this film, you will see that officers are actually grasping what it is you are trying to pound into their head and they will stay awake and listen in your turnouts after watching this. Honestly, how many of you Lieutenants put your workers to sleep reading those boring ass handouts and watching the 10 minute fake state videos? I know in TX it happens A LOT! That is why it is important to hook them up with something they can connect meaningfully with.
Two of my top officers picked out two offenders they thought were suicidal based on behaviors exhibited by this character in the movie. They turned out to be right on the money and within 4 weeks, both had to be transported. It also shows why it is important for officers to be alert to possible issues that should lead them to get an Offender Protection Investigation started–and it is not always due to offenders being sexually assaulted. This can also tie in to those “Code of Silence” lessons you are trying to pound into their heads when it comes to reporting co-workers for engaging in activities that can endanger other offenders and other officers. Many offenders are also extorted and such as well. There are two advantages to recommending this movie: First, it is dirt cheap on amazon.com Secondly, if one life is saved after watching it on your unit, it is worth the buck or whatever the officer spent on it. Here is a link to the trailer, but the trailer’s focus doesn’t do enough justice to Ben’s character in this film. He definitely should have gotten recognition for playing this character–a man broken in so many ways–so well.