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What does a Detention Officer do?

Learn all about Detention Officer duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Detention Officer.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A detention officer is responsible for the supervision, safety, and security of inmates in a jail or prison. They maintain order and discipline among inmates, and enforce rules and regulations.

Detention Officer job duties include:

  • Maintain custody of inmates in a detention facility
  • Ensure the safety and security of inmates, staff, and visitors
  • Conduct searches of inmates and their living areas
  • Supervise inmate activities and work assignments
  • Inspect facilities and equipment for safety and security violations
  • Prepare reports on inmate behavior and incidents
  • Respond to emergencies and take appropriate action
  • Interact with inmates in a professional and respectful manner
  • Provide assistance to other law enforcement agencies as needed
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Detention Officer Job Requirements

Detention Officers are responsible for the care, custody, and control of inmates in a jail or prison. They maintain order and discipline among inmates, and enforce rules and regulations. Detention Officers typically have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some agencies may require postsecondary education or certification. Many agencies require new officers to complete a training academy before beginning their duties. Some states have certification programs for detention officers.

Detention Officer Skills

  • Patrolling
  • Inmate management
  • Security
  • Emergency response
  • Report writing
  • Investigations
  • Interpersonal communication
  • De-escalation techniques
  • Restraint techniques
  • Use of force
  • Defensive tactics
  • First aid/CPR

Related: Top Detention Officer Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Detention Officer

A detention officer is a law enforcement professional who is responsible for the supervision and care of inmates in a jail or prison. As a detention officer, you will be responsible for the safety and security of inmates, as well as the maintenance of order within the facility. In order to become a detention officer, you will need to complete a training program and pass a state-mandated exam.

The first step to becoming a detention officer is to complete a training program. There are many different types of training programs available, but most will require you to complete a basic academy program. During your academy training, you will learn about the policies and procedures of the facility in which you will be working, as well as gain hands-on experience in inmate supervision.

Once you have completed your academy training, you will need to pass a state-mandated exam. This exam will test your knowledge of the policies and procedures you learned during your academy training. Once you have passed this exam, you will be officially certified as a detention officer.

Once you have completed your training and passed your state exam, you will be ready to begin your career as a detention officer. You can expect to work long hours in often stressful conditions, but the satisfaction that comes with knowing you are keeping the community safe will make it all worth it.

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