TMG Celebrates Correctional Trainers During National Correctional Officers Week

The Moss Group partnered with the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Correctional Leaders Association to celebrate Correctional Professionals Week through our second annual spotlight of professionals who stood out for their ingenuity, creativity, and ability to continue to deliver high-quality training within their department.
Today we spotlight Melissa Miles, who serves as the Director of Training with the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYDCCS) at the Albany Training Academy. Melissa started with NYDCCS in 1993 and moved to the Training Academy in 2004. COVID-19 brought challenges to every profession, and corrections held some specific and difficult challenges. Some of these challenges were met through training innovations.
Melissa and her team of training professionals designed training innovations to keep their existing classes and new officer training classes running continuously during the pandemic. The greatest challenges to the agency were determining the best ways to comply with COVID-19 mandates for safety while maintaining the quality of training. Melissa and her team assigned defensive tactics partners for the duration of the academy to minimize exposure, socially distanced participants in classrooms, and reduced dorm room occupancy to two participants per room, among numerous other precautions.
Using new technology became a staple during COVID-19, and Melissa helped implement the use of online meeting platforms to accommodate guest instructors. These innovations were implemented continuously throughout the pandemic as best practices became more evident, and Melissa helped the NYDCCS maintain training operations to keep facilities staffed with trained personnel.
The pandemic was a scary time for many, and the recruits were no exception. Face-to-face instruction that emulated the work environment they were going into was even more important and helped alleviate the fears of the participants. In addition, Melissa witnessed firsthand the importance of building trust in her team and a positive rapport that allowed them to achieve this level of success in such a unique situation. Through miraculous teamwork and collaboration, facilities remained staffed with trained personnel.
Melissa recommends that anyone needing to make quick and extensive modifications to training know the value of investing in team and trust building, and to be prepared for unique and challenging circumstances. Melissa attributes the success to the entire team stating she “can’t do it without a functional team.” Commissioner Anthony Annucci added Melissa and her team personify the value of servant leadership and the agency’s culture that “everyone’s input is important.”
We congratulate Melissa Miles and the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on rising to the challenges of COVID-19 with successful innovative training initiatives to better prepare and support staff long-term.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-RY-BX-K002, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.