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Naval bring finds innovative approaches to old problems.

Located on a small base along the eastern Virginia and North Carolina border, U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake is the newest brig in the U.S. Navy's inventory. It is a level 11 facility capable of housing inmates for up to 10 years, regardless of security level. The facility opened Aug. 11, 2011, and was designed using some of the latest innovations in construction technology.

In addition to being specifically built to American Correctional Association standards, the facility is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fire Protection Code 101, and is certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver. Some of the facility's more innovative ideas include a geothermal heating and cooling system; retention ponds; eco-swales; and a green roof in other areas of the facility.

The goal was to build a prison that retlected current cutting-edge technologies rather than older technology. The vision that was maintained throughout the design and construction phase was to "be innovative." Once the facility was completed, staff quickly established a system of rotating watches (shifts), training and preparing for the number of audits to come.

An Innovative Training Plan

In 2012, in a discussion between brig staff, it was decided that the brig should be taking the same innovative approach to its training program as it did to its building construction. With a new generation of corrections professionals, younger staff tend to respond better to different training methods than what worked for staff in the past. The command element quickly gave the brig's training officer the green light to pursue a more innovative training plan.

After several months of researching potential alternatives, the training officer returned with a plan to implement the Corrections Online Training Collaborative (COTC). ACA founded COTC with Relias Learning. COTC partners include the American Jail Association (AJA) and the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA). This system of online courses not only covers a large percentage of the brig's required annual training, but also matches the innovation of its construction design. Having previously worked with COTC on another project, brig staff were already familiar with the idea of the system, and the command decided to give it a try.

The Unique Advantages of Using

COTC COTC Web-based training has several more advantages than traditional training methods. Convenience is one of the biggest in that the online classroom is available 24/7 from anywhere with an Internet connection, allowing staff to learn at their own pace and at a time or location that is convenient for them. There is also a guarantee that the training provided will be consistent -- all staff use the same program and the training material is standardized. Finally, tracking results is easy with COTC's learning management system, Relias Learning Management System. (1) The facility is better able to see who has completed training and review his or her scores efficiently.

When an organization purchases the program, it retains total administrative rights. This means that the training department or organization may assign system administrators who can research and monitor the system to determine: the level of training compliance by staff; the number of hours completed; and other statistics and reports that the system is capable of producing. The setup of the system includes the development of a facility's own secured training website.

In addition to these baseline advantages, COTC offers several unique advantages as well. Training development is often a very time-intensive process, with each hour of training time representing a dozen or more hours of research, preparation and classroom time. COTC offers courses that are developed and preap-proved by ACA, MA, APPA and the OSS Academy. COTC also enables an organization to upload customized training, as well as information on facility policies and procedures, in order to ensure consistency in the training staff receive. The automated reporting allows for an easy method to track training, which can result in reduced liability.

The Results

Prior to introducing COTC, the facility conducted all training face-to-face with instructors and participants in the classroom. Having to juggle different courses for a staff of more than 240 individuals was a time-consuming and stressful endeavor, particularly with the unique challenges of typical military requirements added to the mix. Twice a month, employees came in on what would have been a day off for them to complete about eight hours of training (a unique advantage of having military staff is the 24/7 access absent having to pay additional salary or overtime). This method of training was inefficient and burdensome, and it did not improve morale in any way.

Upon implementing COTC, brig staff immediately freed up six days annually by dropping one day of training every other month, thereby allowing better use of the classroom. Due to the transient nature of military staffing, the number of staff at the brig changes at an accelerated rate. Approximately 95 shift staff completed 17 courses each, resulting in more than 1,600 course completions, and 4,500 man hours saved annually. "Man hours" is time spent commuting to and from work, as well as the actual time spent at work, by each staff member. In this case, hours were saved because the staff did not have to come to work to complete the training as often.

Applying the same principal to the brig's day staff training, face-to-face weekly training requirements were reduced to twice a month rather than weekly. Nearly 145 nonshift staff members completed about 4,500 courses (two to three courses per month), and the training classroom was freed up by more than 100 hours annually. Man hours saved, on the conservative end, hit around the 5,000-hour mark.

In total, the brig can attribute COTC to an increase in training readiness, accessibility and flexibility for its staff members. The numerical representation of its impact is the more than 9,000 man hours that were not spent sitting in a classroom, and the completion of more than 6,100 COTC courses. Giving shift force staff an additional six days off per year also resulted in a boost in morale.

Overall, the training was highly-regarded and well-received by all staff. Many quickly recognized the advantages of online training, including the ability to reduce the amount of time staff were required to come in for training. After providing additional computers to one of the staff areas, completion rates increased exponentially, as staff were able to take the courses during their normal tour of duty while on breaks or during down time -- the choice was theirs. Some even chose to complete the courses at home, which brig leaders did not anticipate, but it further enhanced usage of the program. A review of the program after the first year resulted in a 20 percent reduction of training hours to 42.75, consisting of 24 courses. Staff discovered that the intensity of the program necessitated a reduction in training hours required. Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego has recently begun using COTC, and Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar Charleston in Charleston, S.C., is researching the program.

ACA Certification and Accreditation

Perhaps the most unanticipated advantage of COTC is that the courses can be used by the staff to accumulate up to 50 percent of their required recertification credits for their ACA certifications. Currently, 65 percent of the brig's eligible staff are certified corrections professionals through ACA, with the highest number having been 73 percent. COTC gives staff the opportunity to maintain their credentials, with at least half the work required already existing as part of their routine training plan. As the brig enters its second year, metrics are not yet available, but brig leaders continue to receive positive feedback. A final advantage of COTC is that it can help to create a smooth transition for the facility between the training of staff and the requirements of ACA in the accreditation process. It is the brig's belief that COTC helped to provide an edge in the accreditation process, especially with regard to staff training and an understanding of best practices in the corrections community.

Conclusion

It all started with the belief that being innovative is the only way to proceed in today's fast-paced world. Technological advancements are approaching in such a way that corrections professionals must continue to change and evolve with them. The goal is to strive to be the best and to continue to push the envelope of innovation, whether in facility design or staff development. COTC has helped the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake reach this goal.

ENDNOTE

(1.) A learning management system (LMS) is a solution that helps automate all of an organization's training needs. The LMS manages all of the tracking, recoding and reporting of live or online training. It also is capable of managing policies and procedures.

Jim Adams is the technical director of the Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake in Chesapeake, Va. He can be contacted at jim.adamsl@navy.mil. Kermit Jones Jr. is the command evaluator and ACA compliance manager at Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake in Chesapeake, Va. For more information on ACA Online Training, contact Diane Geiman, ACA's administrator of ACA/COM Online Training at dianeg@acaorg.
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Title Annotation:Professional Development Update
Author:Adams, Jim; Jones, Kermit, Jr.
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1U5VA
Date:Jul 1, 2014
Words:1523
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