TMG Celebrates ND DOC Correctional Training Staff 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 the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (NDDOCR) Staff Development Department, which worked together to overcome obstacles presented during the pandemic. Candace Rittenbach, (Director of Core Correctional Practices), Darci Garrigues (Contact Officer at Missouri River Correctional Center of NDDOCR), and Julie Munkeby, (Unit Manager at James River Correctional Center of NDDOCR) played pivotal roles as members of the staff development department during this time. 
The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to every profession, and corrections held some specific and difficult challenges. Some of these challenges were met through training innovations. The staff development department was faced with new classes being quarantined and travel extremely restricted. Staff rose to the challenge by developing online classes immediately. 
The greatest challenge to NDDOCR was technological savvy. Instructors and students alike had to quickly become familiar with various online learning platforms they had not used before. Instructors had to navigate the online instruction and keep participants engaged throughout what would have previously been face-to-face and hands-on learning. In addition, staff in quarantine needed devices issued to them to use to attend the classes. Using new technology became a staple during COVID-19, and the drive to keep employees paid and learning while in quarantine made it imperative to overcome any challenges this presented. Using online learning platforms started nearly immediately and improvements were continuous as participants and instructors learned alongside one another to successfully adapt to this new normal. 
Transitioning to online learning maintained the overall effectiveness of the agency despite the pandemic. Both new and existing employees met compliance requirements and continued with business as necessary. Participants received the new training well, complimenting the flexibility of making up classes when sick or quarantined, and having access to one-on-one sessions so they would not fall behind. 
Advice for anyone needing to make quick and extensive modifications to training is to realize it is not going to be perfect. You must be willing to fail, take risks, and make mistakes. Remember to remain flexible and calm, be kind and patient with yourself, and support your instructors. 
We congratulate the staff development department of the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 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.