This past week, the Dayton Rotary Club was given a glance into the lives of some of our wonderful law enforcement officers. Rotarian and Liberty County Sheriff’s Captain Ken DeFoor led the program and introduced two officers – Sgt. Ann Marie Mitchell, who previously was the Training Division Coordinator and is now the new administrator over the county jail, and Jail Capt. John Bennett, who previously was a sheriff’s deputy.
Mitchell has 13 years of law enforcement experience and is a retired U.S. Army Military Police officer. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Mary Hardin-Baylor University.
Bennett started his career out at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice when he was just 18 years old, working as a correctional officer in various institutions. Near the end of his career with TDCJ, he was assigned to Death Row at the Polansky Unit in Livingston.
Sgt. Mitchell stated that she is looking at several goals for her new position. The first is to have better communication with other law enforcement and the community. The second is to implement a positive leadership model. This model includes catching officers doing something good and rewarding them along with giving the officers more opportunities for training. All of the officers are now required to attend a classroom training once a month.
Along with the classroom training, Mitchell stated that there was on-line training free for the staff. She has implemented a computer lab for these online trainings. Specific training that she cited was hostage rescues and riot training. Mitchell is very proud that the jail is fully staffed for the first time in a long time and that morale is more positive than in years past.
This line of work does not come without challenges. Both Mitchell and Bennett admitted that their line of work is very stressful. One particular challenge is the number of inmates. Over 190 inmates are waiting to go to court and are in jail on felony charges.
Bennett stated that he has learned over the years to give inmates what they need, don’t give them what they don’t need, and respect them and know that respect is a two-way street. He discussed the process of the arrest procedure to the Dayton Rotary Club. Part of his job is to address the concerns of inmates, work on a better environment and retain staff members.
The program ended with several questions from the Dayton Rotarians. President Tami Pierce then lead the club in the Rotary 4-Way Test.