CCC, Sheriff's Office train detention officers


Detention Officer 2 Tony Innerbichler, left, and Sgt. Paul Baze of the Coconino County Sheriff's Office graduated from the Basic Detention Academy, which is held each semester in partnership with CCC. 


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Paul Baze and Tony Innerbichler stand in a hallway of the Coconino County Detention Facility.

Doors clang shut. Keys and chains rattle. Inmates move with detention officers to other parts of the jail.

Baze and Innerbichler are detention officers, and both went through a Basic Detention Academy, made possible through a partnership with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Coconino Community College. The program is designed to meet Arizona Detention Association standards, and it provides entry-level training to detention officer staff.

Baze, a sergeant, said the sheriff’s office and CCC have been in partnership to offer the academy for more than 10 years. Students admitted to the academy must be hired or recommended by an approved law enforcement agency. Baze, himself, graduated from the Basic Detention Academy through CCC more than eight years ago.

“I really enjoyed the detention academy,” Baze said, adding that although the academy was academics based (theory and law), the students also learned defensive tactics and team building and received physical training.

About 90 percent of the detention officers working at the Coconino County Detention Facility went through the Basic Detention Academy, Baze said. The program is worth 13 credits, which helped Baze graduate a full semester early in completing his bachelor’s degree at Northern Arizona University. Baze added that the course lasts six weeks, and all classes are taught by staff at the jail. Typically, 10 students go through the academy at a time, and the academy is offered once in the fall and once in the spring.

“We just can’t hire enough people,” Baze said.

Baze currently serves as the Detention Support Services sergeant, who manages the laundry, inmate classifications, commissary and the medical office.

“When I started, I wanted to be a patrol officer,” Baze said. “But I enjoyed working with the people here.”

He heard about a job at the jail from his friend, Innerbichler, who is a Detention Officer 2 at the jail.

“I said, ‘We’re always looking for people at the jail. You should apply.’” Innerbichler said.

Innerbichler had already gone through the Basic Detention Academy. He, like Baze, had aspirations of being a deputy on patrol, and he saw being a detention officer as a good way to get his foot in the door at the Sheriff’s Office so he could get experience.

“I wanted to learn how to talk to people not having a good day,” Innerbichler said. “If you see me, you’re probably having one of your worst days.”

In the academy and as a detention officer, Innerbichler has learned to be calm and firm in the face of anger, and empathetic in the face of sadness. He’s been working at the jail for nearly nine years.

“One thing I didn’t expect was the variety of things you can do,” Innerbichler said, adding that he has served as a classification officer who identifies risk of inmates, a floor officer on day shifts and graveyard shifts, a housing and intake officer and a court officer who transports inmates to court dates.

Innerbichler enjoys the work for two reasons: First, he appreciates the bond among his fellow detention officers.

“It provides a sense of comradery with others who go through difficult situations together,” Innerbichler said.

Second, some of the inmates who come into the jail surprise him.

“I enjoy it because there are some individuals who will thank you for your work,” Innerbichler said, adding that even when people are at their lowest point, they can realize that their lives are not over and there is a coming back from mistakes.

Baze and Innerbichler recommend the job, but they caution that people who go into the field need to be prepared.

“There are tough things to see, and your mettle will be tested,” Innerbichler said. “You will have to expect these things. And people will not be grateful to you for doing your job. People will vilify you for doing your job.”

But, in the end, the satisfaction that he’s making a difference in people’s lives and to a community make the job well worth it, Innerbichler was quick to add.

For more information about the Basic Detention Academy, visit


Tuesday, 27th September 2016

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  • Tuesday, 27th September 2016