Jackson County Marks 126th Corrections Academy Graduation



Jackson County held a welcoming ceremony and reception for 14 new graduates of the 126th Corrections Officer Training Academy. These officers will now become part of what is widely considered within the Corrections Department to be an extended professional family.

Diana Turner, Director of the Jackson County Department of Corrections addressed the group before the ceremony and was the first to congratulate them on their achievement. “We talked about, at length, about the serious path before you, and the importance of doing it right, every time…You’re doing the toughest job in the state of Missouri, and maybe the toughest job in the Midwest. I’m incredibly proud of each of you. It’s an amazing organization with a really bright future and you represent that future.”

Jackson County was honored that Thomas Relford, Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the F.B.I.’s Kansas City field office, took time to speak at the graduation. “When I look around, I see diversity in this group. And that is so important for an organization, something that we, quite honestly, at FBI are not there yet. But when I look at you, that makes you a better organization.”

Agent Relford continued, “It’s been tough for law enforcement in general, for recruiting. I talk to police chiefs all the time, and we’re just not getting the number of people we’ve had in the past. So I’m extremely grateful for you wanting to be a part of this community, wanting to be a part of this great profession.”

Theresa Galvin, Jackson County Legislator, Sixth District was also present and had some words of advice for the graduates. “I am going to ask you to keep in mind that the inmates are people too. Some of them have done some very bad things, while others have made bad choices…However, they are all someone’s child, someone’s parent or sibling, someone out there loves them. I believe the respect of both your colleagues and the inmates is very important in the Detention Center. The best way to earn respect is to give respect.”

Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. expressed pride in these new associates and optimism for the department’s future. “Every time I have to speak at one of these graduations, I see it as another great day in Jackson County. Because every time I see a graduating class, it means we’re getting that much closer to where we need to be.” The County Executive echoed the advice of Director Turner and others, urging the graduates to identify an experienced and principled mentor to help them grow in their new roles as corrections officers. “That one has got to be a person that’s going to tell you what you need to hear, and not what they think you want to hear…You’ve always got to be ready to hear the truth all the time to make us better.”

Lt_Hill+Sgt_ToThe 126th Academy is the first to graduate under the guidance of Lieutenant Charise Hill and Sergeant Hieu To, among others. Sgt. To’s first day on the Corrections training staff was the first day of the Academy. He hit the ground running, training the new recruits along with newly promoted Lt. Charise Hill, to mold them into corrections officers. Sgt. To agreed with F.B.I. Agent Relford that the classes’ diversity was a key strength in their new positions. “Because we have different backgrounds, that they can contribute different opinions, and that can help us shape how we want to communicate with inmates, because all the inmates have different ethnicities and backgrounds.”

Jackson County is proud of its new associates in the Department of Corrections and wishes them a long and successful career in their chosen field.

(L-R: Lieutenant Charise Hill & Sergeant Hieu To)