Mexican cadets train at NM correctional facility

By Nico Roesler

The New Mexican

Published: Friday, March 30 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

This includes classes on interpersonal communications, officer safety, rape elimination, ethics, report writing, and a drug and gang awareness class. Cadets then break off into three weeks of specialized training.

They take classes that include a defensive-tactics instructor course, a chemical-agent instructor course and a train-the-trainer instruction course. The final three weeks prepare the international cadets to return to their countries to teach their own officers what they've learned.

"We're showing them our system, how it works, and then they can implement it the best they can," said Capt. Clarence Olivas of the Training Academy.

Olivas said instructors don't take the approach that other systems are wrong, but rather that cadets may be able to take ideas from the U.S. systems.

Lilia has been working in a corrections facility for about a year.

She said she believes she was selected for the program in Santa Fe based on "the performance of her duties" in Mexico.

With Maestas translating, she said, "Females over the last year and a half have been allowed to do more work in a male institution. They no longer just have male officers."

Maestas was recently assigned to Mexico's only accredited academy and said that of a class of 250 cadets, 150 were women.

"We've noticed how much better male inmates respond to female officers," Maestas said.

Two of the female cadets in the academy this spring have already been through the classes at least four times. They are now instructors, teaching the first-timers, like Lilia, things that may benefit them as they try to improve their prisons at home.

"They're teaching us a lot, not only physically but mentally," Lilia said.

Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com

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