Pima County Jail in need of corrections officers

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Most people hope they'll never spend a single day of their lives in jail. But some people are there every day, for a living. Corrections officers are important in keeping a jail running safely and smoothly. However, at the Pima County Jail, they're short-staffed and are in need of more, according to the Sheriff's Department.

There are currently 1,801 inmates and 479 corrections officers at the Pima County Jail.

"We are outnumbered at all times by the inmates," Officer Gabriel Rios said. "But we're a big family. We're always there to cover each other. So if I ever call for backup, my assistance is just 30 seconds away."

Rios does a little bit of everything at the jail, from escorting inmates around to patrolling the halls. He often walks inmates through the halls to court appearances, the medics, and other spots.

"I try to look at all of them like a blank slate," he said. "Because I can't treat them differently."

Regardless of what crimes a person has committed, Rios explained he has to look past it: he wants to make sure all inmates are treated fairly and the same way.

PCSD is looking for more C.O.'s like Martin Lopez to work in the halls and behind bars at the complex. He works in one of the pods where inmates stay, and is responsible for looking after 64 inmates.

"I've gotta make sure everybody is safe, sound," Lopez said. "And of course, myself as well."

Lopez is fresh out of the academy, which is a grueling 8 week training program that Lopez said is not easy. Fitting, and necessary though, for his line of work.

"There's nothing that's easy," he said. "Every day is a challenge, I learn every day, I ask questions."

Officer Briana Rocha has a few more years under her belt than Lopez, so her job is a bit different.

"We make sure that we get the inmates from point A to point B, make sure they get there safely," Rocha said.

She typically escorts inmates throughout the prison from place to place, but is always ready to be shifted to another assignment, if need be.

"You never know what you're going to expect, every day is different," she said. "You're here to help staff out, you're here for the safety of the inmates, making sure the facility is safe, secure."

Rios knows the in's and out's of jail and knows the Pima County Jail complex like the back of his hand. But still, years removed from the academy and years on the job, he said his training never stops.

"I've been here seven years, and I always feel like something comes up and I learn something new that I didn't know before."

PCSD is hoping to add 40 or more recruits for this upcoming academy. Rios said 40 more C.O.'s would be a huge boost for the jail, and a huge help.

If you'd like to learn more about how to become a corrections officer, click here.

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