By Nyesha Stone
What does it mean to be a correctional officer? Two African American captains at Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) can answer that.
Captains Michael Hannah and Joshua Briggs love their jobs, but the job comes with a lot of responsibility. Both men started as correctional officers, Hannah 11 years ago and Briggs 10 years. They saw MCSO was hiring through a newspaper ad and decided to apply.
They both went into the job knowing they wanted to make it a career.
In the past, it took about six months to become a correctional officer. There was a written test, then a three-person panel interview, a physical check, a background check, plus a few other requirements.
Now, to make the job more accessible, a lot of those steps have been taken away, such as the written test. And the time it takes to become an officer has been in cut in half to three months.
Briggs began working in the disciplinary unit where he worked aside two other officers. Eventually it felt fun to come work and that’s when Briggs knew this is what he wanted to do.
“I could have been a person who went the other way, but I seen the other side,” said Briggs. Briggs said he’s able to emphasize with others, which is a big part of the job.
Briggs and Hannah have been working together almost their entire careers. The job of a correctional officer is to make sure the defendant they are watching gets the things they need while they’re waiting to be sentenced or sent home, such as food and medicine. It’s about teaching and working from the heart, the men said.
Through Hannah’s 11 years, he’s learned how to be patient and how to elevate situations before reacting.
Both men understand that the relationship between law and the community isn’t the strongest, but they said that’s even more of a reason to join.
“You should want to apply to make a difference,” said Hannah. “
Briggs added that “you have to put yourself out there and not just hope things change.”
But no matter what you want to be, Hannah said “you can do anything you want to do…even if you just want to be someone.”
MSCO is currently recruiting for correctional officers. To apply for a job at MSCO, visit https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Sheriff.