By Justin Story
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — County jailers, jail staff, supervisors and vendors from across the state converged on Bowling Green this week for the Kentucky Jailers' Association Summer Conference.
Held at the Sloan Convention Center, the weeklong conference provided an opportunity for jail employees to stay up-to-date on annual training requirements.
Members of law enforcement, judges, attorneys and other people in the legal field led discussions on numerous subjects throughout the conference.
"It gives you an opportunity to find out what other jailers and jail supervisors are doing across the state, which can help you run your jail more efficiently," Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode said.
Classes held throughout the week covered topics such as recognizing drug influences and inmate behavior, making use of documents to reduce lawsuits, search procedures for contraband, managing the mentally ill and professional courtroom demeanor.
Bowling Green attorney Aaron Smith, who has represented jailers in civil suits, stressed the importance of each jail having a set of policies and procedures in place and of each employee obeying those policies.
Keeping a record of incidents and actions jail employees take in response to those incidents is also helpful in reducing liability when a jailer or deputy jailer is sued, Smith said.
"When something happens and you can sit with an attorney and give him papers saying, 'This is what happened,' it's a lot of worry off your shoulders," Smith said.
Jail supervisors participated in a series of leadership classes each day at the convention center.
Jail employees were also able to practice testing and training scenarios, including proper techniques for using force on a simulator known as a MILO.
Deborah Coleman, psychologist for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, led a discussion on managing mentally ill inmates in which she urged jail employees to look for warning signs that an inmate may attempt suicide.
Often, networking among jailers and deputies can support the more formal training they receive at the conference.
"There's a lot of camaraderie," Barren County Jailer Matt Mutter said. "It always seems like you learn as much outside of class interacting with the other jailers."
That camaraderie was demonstrated throughout the week as attendees organized an impromptu fundraiser for the family of Bardstown Police Department Officer Jason Ellis, who was shot and killed May 25 while driving home from work.
Ellis' death remains under investigation, and no arrests have been made.
Shelby County Jailer Bobby Waits, past president and vice president of the state jailers' association, said nearly $15,000 had been raised over the course of the conference.
"Law enforcement of course is a close group, and I thought this was very touching," Waits said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
The summer conference is supplemented by an annual fall conference that will be held in Lexington in October.
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