Eighteen corrections and detentions noncommissioned officers left Fort Leonard Wood’s U.S. Army Military Police School with extra credentials that should give them an edge when they eventually transition from Soldiers to civilians.
The Soldiers earned American Correctional Association credentials as certified corrections officers or supervisors.
Twelve Soldiers received corrections officer and six received corrections supervisor certifications, resulting in a 100 percent pass-fail rate on the first examination under USAMPS’ new Corrections Certification Program.
“That tells us our curriculum, along with the program study guide, is meeting the requirements to become American Correctional Association credentialed,” said Ron Mullihan, chief of USAMPS Training Development and Accreditations, of the ACA credentialing process that began more than three years ago.
The American Corrections Association is the national standard for corrections accreditations and credentialing. According to its website, the 146-year-old organization is the oldest association developed specifically for practitioners in the correctional profession.
In addition to corrections NCOs, initial entry military police Soldiers and commissioned officers who will be assigned in a correctional environment, are eligible to test for credentialing. What does ACA credentialing mean?
“Soldiers will have an advantage on two fronts,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith, corrections and detention NCO Professional Development Systems training developer.
“They have job experience and will also have the certification. With all of the additional corrections training we do in the Army, the credentialing adds more credibility to our profession and especially when we transition out of the Army,” Smith added.
Mullihan said a credentialed Soldier gives civilian corrections agencies a proven option.
“Hiring somebody off the street and training them themselves is a gamble, because the employer doesn’t know if they are going to be a good functional corrections officer,” Mullihan said.
“Whereas somebody who served in the Army already has the experience, certification and the credentials from ACA. They’ve already proven themselves as a corrections officer, therefore making them a low-risk option,” Mullihan explained.
Corrections and detentions is one of four military occupational specialties USAMPs trains that also includes military police, criminal investigation special agent and military working dog handler.
Mullihan said the credentialing process for the other three school lines of effort is in the planning stages.
The process involves working with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to establish a recognized policy for the Army in order to obtain funding, he said.
“We’re hoping to have the law enforcement credentialing program in place by 2020,” Mullihan said. “We have a clear path, and it is progressing. We’re designing and developing the certification program for all Department of Defense military and civilian police officers.”
Being ACA credentialed won’t mean that former Soldiers can walk into a corrections facility and automatically receive a job, Smith said. “However, it is definitely beneficial if you apply at an ACA facility and already have their credentials,” he said.
Mullihan said USAMPS is in a real prime position to, not only train Soldiers to the highest level possible, but also try and put them in a position to where if they get out of the Army, they are in position to compete for a similar civilian position with less requirements in their way in order to get certification at their state level.
“This also helps the Army, because we know, through our Soldiers who pass the credentialing exam, that our training has them in the vicinity of our civilian counterparts. If our Soldiers are passing the exam, in our eyes, they are at the same level as their national counterparts,” Mullihan said.