Ever wondered what it’s like to work in a jail? Hear from Sgt. Jodi Weaver, who joined the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office in March of 2008 as a detention deputy.
Q: What was the training process like for you?
A: I was older when I started, but I knew nothing about law enforcement life. I was so green; I didn’t know anything. I didn’t understand inmate communication or their value system. I came from the business world and the world of raising a family. I had no clue what addiction and generational pain looked like. I didn’t understand the values and acceptance of certain behaviors amongst the jail population. I could accomplish the task asked of me, but just understanding the world some inmates come from was foreign to me. I have since done extensive research on addiction and generational pain. We all deal with our pain differently. Unfortunately, not everyone handles it in legal ways.
Q: Do you remember what your first day was like?
A: I tell new recruits that you are drinking from the fire hose for the first several weeks. There is a lot of information, and you might feel like you are drowning for the first little bit. But then you’ll start getting the hang of things toward the end of training. When you are placed on a shift, the routine becomes more regular, and you begin to fine-tune the details.
On my first day, I knew nothing about radios, safety or command presence, or law enforcement other than being pulled over once. However, I had one tool in my pocket that kids coming out of high school don’t have: I knew how to tell people what to do and demand that it get done. I didn’t mess around. When I told the inmates what to do, they did it. I get teased a lot that I use my “mom voice.” I’ve even been known to count to three to gain compliance. You can be the toughest person in the world, but you can also gain a lot of compliance from speaking respectfully.
Q: What is the best thing about this job?
A: I wanted a recession-proof career that gave me good benefits with an alternative schedule so I could home-school my kids. I have a chronically ill child, and Bannock County Benefits are like none other. It is a pay raise in and of itself. That can be overlooked if you are 19-20 years old and don’t have any illnesses or family. Insurance is the most significant benefit you can imagine when you don’t want to think about anything other than being with your family. Those bills wait for no one. As I get older, I like the look of that PERSI retirement, too!
Q: Do you feel like this job allows you to have an impact on others?
A: I love working with officers, helping them develop their skills, and fine-tuning those details. I like to let them have those first-hand experiences and watch them while keeping them safe and in compliance with our policies. I love watching them grow and develop. I love letting them make decisions and giving them options with the “why” behind it. I love being a Shift Sergeant. I have developed a lot of good working relationships with staff, and many who have left still keep in contact.
Q: What have you learned about yourself in this role?
A: Being a woman in law enforcement is hard. Not because of strength or fear but because I don’t do things like the guys. I’m more likely to talk to an inmate who’s struggling, which takes time out of our busy schedules. There is a time for force and restraint, but there’s also a time to listen. Being different is difficult at times, but I’ve learned to work from my strengths.
Q: What advice would you give other women considering joining the detention staff?
A: Being a member of law enforcement as a woman is a mental game. Women are wise and they are effective. They don’t have to be as tough as the guys and can do things differently. Being smart and knowing your policy goes a long way. I know many talented women in law enforcement, both in the jail and in patrol. I didn’t have a desire to work in law enforcement, but I understood people and I didn’t have a problem telling people what to do. I had no idea if I would like it, but I tell you what, now I love what I do, and I’m good at it. I take pride in that.
The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office is currently recruiting for positions in the detention center. Please apply at bannockcounty.us/sheriff.