Twelve people graduated from a jail officer academy Wednesday night at the Pettis County Sheriff's office.

This was a first for the Pettis County Sheriff's Office, which hosted the 40-hour training academy by the Missouri Sheriff's Association for those wanting a career in corrections. Applicants for a job as a jail officer need to be at least 18 years of age in the state of Missouri, according to Capt. Skyler Viebrock, Pettis County Jail administrator.

The jail academy graduation, the first of its kind in the state, was “absolutely special,” Capt. Viebrock told KSIS after the ceremony.

“It's something we've been working on for multiple years, trying to get something like this set up. We had a basic 40-hour detention class and everything, but we wanted an academy for the people who are the unsung heroes, who aren't seen out in the public,” Capt. Viebrock said.

The previous program was very basic, but the new one goes into the legal aspects of the job so the corrections officers “would have a better understanding of the legality of what they'll be doing and how to protect themselves,” Capt. Viebrock noted.

The jail administrator said that six of the graduates Wednesday night were from Benton County, four from Pettis County, one from Johnson County and one from Saline County.

Wednesday night's grads ranged in age from 19 to 62. Many of them had friends and family in attendance in the small training room. Each grad received a certificate of completion.

“I'm proud of them all,” Capt. Viebrock stated.

Capt. Viebrock said that currently, he has two jail officer positions open at the Pettis County Jail, “and multiple other jails are always looking for great, quality candidates. Usually their agencies are already sponsoring them and send them to this academy,” he said.

In addition, Capt. Viebrock said he is looking at a three-tier program in which candidates will be able achieve certification from the Missouri Sheriff's Association.

Capt. Viebrock taught chapter one of the most recent program. Chapter one dealt with the mental health of the jail officer and what a corrections officer actually does in his day-to-day duties.

Sgt. Scott Nichols Also taught part of the program and focused on case law.

Sam Boyd taught two days of the course, which ended on Wednesday. He had another commitment and was unable to attend the ceremony.

Capt. Dave Hannon from Miller County was the other instructor at the academy. He also teaches in the MSA's peace officer academy.

Johnson County Jail Administrator Jason Shackles is teaching the next course already under way in Webster County in southwest Missouri. After that is completed, the program moves to Adair County April 28.

Jeanne Merritt, marketing director for the Missouri Sheriff's Association, Jeff City, accompanied Kevin Merritt, executive director of the Missouri Sheriff's Association for the graduation ceremony.

Jeanne helped the MSA form a jail administrators commitee and a sub-committee on jail standards and training, which led to an annual conference for jail administrators. This year marks the 12th one, scheduled for May 9.

Pettis County Sherif Brad Anders commented in facebook post:

“What an honor to host the first Jail Officer Academy in the State of Missouri. Congratulations to all who attended! Tremendous strides! Special thanks to Captain Viebrock for his relentless leadership and guidance!” Anders said.

Jail Officer Graduation

More From AM 1050 KSIS