FORSYTH COUNTY -- When Forsyth County’s new jail opens in March, it will have a 16-year veteran of the sheriff’s office leading correctional training with a newly earned national certification that only one other person in Georgia shares.
Sgt. Kenny Hughes worked about 18 months to become a certified correctional trainer with the American Jail Association through the Correctional Trainer Certification Commission.
The designation provides “additional liability protection” to the agency by receiving professional backing from the association, a national educational nonprofit that delivers professional development, personal certifications and advocacy services to correctional personnel at all ranks and operational levels.
“It shows they understand that I employ the uses of best practices and that our agency has someone who is qualified to teach,” Hughes said.
Coming to the sheriff’s office in July 1998, Hughes has been assigned to uniform patrol, the warrant unit, the sheriff’s services division and the jail operations section.
He has been a sergeant for 10 years, a POST-certified instructor for six years, a POST senior instructor for four years and has been a training coordinator for the division and a shift supervisor.
He has taught defensive tactics, firearms training, chemical courses, has done a majority of the training for the jail and handled some advanced training for the department, as well as teaching in regional academies.
Currently, he is the supervisor of the jail operations section and team leader for the jail’s security response unit.
His CCT designation affords him and the agency additional resources to contact about training needs and methods, he said. Those likely will come in handy when the new, larger jail opens.
“Right now, there’s no officer who stays all night inside the area with the inmates, but now there will be,” he said. “It’s going to be a complete departure from what we’re doing now. It’s not anything I’ve had to teach before.”
Training will also have to be given on how inmates are housed and grouped.
“We have a loose inmate housing classification system now because of limited space, but we will be able to implement a thorough classification system [with the new jail],” Hughes said.
To earn the certification, Hughes submitted an application based on experience and past training. He provided extensive documentation on his job description as a trainer.
“You have to show you are primarily responsible for the training within your division,” he said.
He then submitted a DVD of him teaching a lesson plan — which he had to write — to a class, proving he can talk well in front of others and understands the teaching techniques.
“They review it, and you get graded on your application,” Hughes said. “You have to score 550 out of 800 points. That determines whether you’re eligible to sit for an exam.
“It was a three-hour exam, and you have to score 80 percent or better to earn the certification.”
He said when people look for training assistance for their jails, they can go to the association’s website and find its certified professionals.
“They can see a list and see that [we] have one of only two in the state of Georgia,” he said. “It shows the type of dedication and professionalism that we are looking for and strive for in our department.”
The process was not just lengthy, he said, but also expensive. The sheriff’s office paid for Hughes to complete the application and exam.
“That shows they’ll push us and assist us and give us the support we need to develop ourselves into our professional standards,” he said.
Forsyth’s sheriff’s office has supported this level of training knowledge before.
Assistant Sheriff’s Services Division Commander G.T. Wilson is a certified jail manager, said Robin Regan, a spokesman for the office.
There are seven officers in Georgia with a certified jail officer designation from the AJA, Regan said. Three of them — Michael Eaton, Billy Gay and William Mouret — work for Forsyth County.