COTA Curriculum Details

280 HOUR ACADEMY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

The 280 hour Correctional Officer Training Academy (COTA) program consists of 10 functional competency areas. The COTA is Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board certified. Competency sections 1-9 are functional areas addressing knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform the duties of the Correctional Officer. The Administrative/Personnel functional area is comprised of administrative, health and personnel areas. These include benefits advisement, orientation, TB tests, Occupational Health Unit in-processing, exam administration, graduation preparation and family orientation. Instruction is enhanced by practical skills application and exercises in COTA's prison replica cells and dorm (CB-9). Cadets also participate in field training at their assigned institution prior to Academy graduation. Cadets are eligible for up to 21 semester hours of community college credit through Rio Salado Community College, upon successful completion of the Academy.

Functional areas, curriculum and time frames are as follows:

 

 

Administrative/Personnel

  1. Ethics and Professionalism
  2. Inmate Management
  3. Legal Issues
  4. Communication
  1. Officer Safety
  2. Applied Skills
  3. Security, Custody & Control
  4. Conflict and Crisis Management
  5. Medical and Mental Health


ADMINISTRATIVE/PERSONNEL - 20.5 Hours

Title

Description

hours

Commander's Welcome

The COTA Commander provides a formal welcome and overview of the Academy.

.5

Orientation/Personnel

On the first day of class, Cadets are given an overview of their rights, benefits, duties, responsibilities and accountability as employees of the Arizona Department of Corrections. In-processing paperwork is completed.

3.5

Graduation/Family Open House and Tour

Practice exercises and formations are held on graduation day prior to the ceremony. Family time is allowed for cadets and their guests to tour the Academy. A formal commencement ceremony is conducted in the Academy auditorium. Guest speakers include distinguished, long-time department members. The final formation and dismissal is held at the end of the ceremony.

2.0

Examination/Exam Review

Cadets are given an objective exam every week except during field training. The exam evaluates the mastery of each performance objective addressed during the previous week. Tests are scored with an optical scanner which completes an item and distractor analysis. Cadets must pass with a minimum overall average of 70%. Exams are reviewed with the Cadets. Any missed areas are explained and the correct answer provided.

10.0

Close Out/Review/Exit Interviews

The Class Sergeant reviews and closes out the PACE (Performance Appraisal for Correctional Employees) evaluation with the Cadets. Each Cadet completes a written evaluation of the Academy training and is given an opportunity to discuss any issues of professional importance with the COTA Class Lieutenant. Cadets are briefed on where to report their first day of work and any pertinent issues related to reporting. This session is designed as a positive starting point for the cadets to make the transition to the position of Correctional Officer.

2.0

COTA Rules and Regulations

A complete set of COTA Rules and Regulations is given to each Cadet. The Class Sergeant emphasizes key elements of the rules and regulations and goes over the reasons for the conventions. Cadets are advised of the expectation they will abide by all COTA rules and regulations.

1.0

Drill and Ceremony

This section introduces Cadets to basic military formations and movements as part of the Academy protocol. It is designed to reinforce the team building process.

1.0

Employee Organization Presentation

Provides information on Employee Organizations available to Arizona Department of Corrections employees.

.5

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1.0 ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM - 13.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

1.1

Employee Rules and Regulations

Instruction covers the statutes, policies, rules and regulations that govern the behavior of Arizona State and Arizona Department of Corrections employees. The benefits and rights that accrue to employees are covered in the ADC Employee Handbook which is provided and discussed in class.

2.0

1.2

Workplace Relations

This class examines issues in the workplace related to racial and sexual harassment as well as workplace violence. Cadets participate through reading scenarios in small groups and engaging in active decision making and discussion.

2.0

1.3

Ethical Staff-Inmate Relations

Spells out to Cadets the do's and don'ts of ethical staff/inmate relations as defined in ADC policy and the Arizona Revised Statutes. Acceptable and unacceptable relationships between staff and inmates, and inmate's families are discussed. The procedures which must be followed in the event a personal or family relationship involves an inmate or inmate's family are outlined. Cadets learn the specifics of what constitutes an inappropriate relationship, how it impacts the institution's security and the inmates, as well as the specific civil, job related and legal consequences of engaging in inappropriate relationships.

3.0

1.4

Employee Grievance

This course identifies the philosophy behind and ADC procedures for solving employee problems or grievances. It includes grievable and non-grievable issues and identifies redress for issues covered by other appeal systems.

1.0

1.5

Professionalism and Ethics

This course provides Cadets with a basis for ethical decision-making by helping them identify the sources of their personal values and ethics and the differences and possible sources of conflict between personal and professional ethics. Cadets review source documents pertaining to ethical standards and the consequences of unethical behavior.

3.0

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2.0 INMATE MANAGEMENT - 35.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

2.1

Inmate Manipulation

This course describes the manipulation and deception practiced by inmates primarily on staff and identifies ways for staff to protect themselves from becoming victims. Cadets practice actual scenarios in class and in CB-9 to get hands-on experience dealing with inmate behaviors

4.0

2.2

Direct

Supervision

Of Inmates

This course introduces cadets to ADC’s direct supervision inmate management methodology of increased communication and interaction between inmates and staff. It emphasizes creating a pro-social environment and reinforcing pro-social behavior. The goal is to empower officers to become effective supervisors of inmates.  The class includes extensive hands-on experience in the simulation prison environment in CB-9 doing role-plays and practicing inmate management skills.

8.0

2.4

Inmate Discipline System

This course provides the managerial/legal framework for the inmate Discipline System, the process of discipline from the discretion of the Officer, through the rules of discipline, forms, hearings, and appeals. Specifically addresses the role of the officer in the process. It includes practical application in report writing and review and critique of actual disciplinary reports culled from the field.

6.0

2.5

Inmate Classification System

This course identifies the inmate classification process and parole classification process as a part of the inmate management system. Explores and defines the role of the staff member in the process of classification. It relates the process of classification to the security, custody and control of the institution.

2.0

2.6

Inmate Grievance System

This course covers the inmate grievance system. The ADC Policy on Inmate Grievances is explained and discussed as is the appropriate procedure for handling inmate grievances. Examples of situations are provided and Cadets learn that knowledge of the proper procedures can help them in the performance of their duties.

1.0

2.7

Inmate Programs

This course explains and describes the types and purposes of the ADC Inmate programs within the correctional system. Included are the major components of education programming in the corrections system, para-professional and other counseling available and programs of a recreational, social, religious, self-improvement, and health nature. The premise for treatment is based on the belief that people have the capacity to change their behavior if given the proper tools. The essential nature of teamwork between program and security staff is emphasized.

2.0

2.8

Discretion and Decision Making

Cadets view video tape scenarios of typical situations that Officers must handle. Oral and written exercises provide Cadets with activities that assist them to explore the response options and the reasons for each. Cadets refine their ability to think on their feet, handle potential hostile situations and apply defusing techniques. Additional hands-on practice is given in CB-9, the simulator prison, using role plays and scenarios that Cadets observe and discuss.

3.0

2.9

Security Threat Groups

This course is designed to introduce Correctional Officers to the types of Security Threat Groups (STGs) found in Arizona Correctional Institutions, their history, and the problems they create. Cadets will also be introduced to Arizona Department Order 806 and the importance of documentation by Correctional Officers when encountering suspected STG activity. It introduces Cadets to the criteria used to validate STG members and the necessity of handling all STG related materials found during searches as evidence.

3.0

2.10

Working with Female Inmates

This course addresses legal issues related to the supervision of female inmates, the causes and consequences of inappropriate staff/inmate relationships and the impact upon staff, inmates, and institutional security. The concept of gender role expectations is introduced and instruction is provided regarding differences in male and female communication styles. Staff are introduced to the special needs of female inmates and specific requirements for their supervision as defined in CRIPA policy, Department Order 120

2.0

2.11

Gender Specific Intervention

This course addresses problems staff may encounter when supervising opposite sex inmates and times when they are most vulnerable to pressure from inmates. Cadets are provided with an action plan and offered techniques which might aid them in handling problems encountered when supervising inmates and introduced to personal and departmental resources they can use.

4.0

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3.0 LEGAL ISSUES - 10.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

3.3

(a) Use of Force

This course provides the foundation for Officers to make decisions about use of force. It defines the ADC Use of Force Continuum and clearly details the philosophical expectations of ADC in the use of force. Staff and inmate safety is the essential concern in any use of force situation. Cadets are familiarized with ADC Department Order 804.07. Use of Force is examined in relationship to the use of emergency systems and non-violent crisis intervention. The instructional goal is to enhance staff safety, reduce the number of use of force incidents and minimize the future liability of ADC.

4.0

(b) Use of Force

This course is intended to provide practical use of force training for COTA cadets as well as a use of force review for correctional officers prior to weapons qualification. The Use of Force Continuum is presented as are guidelines for preventing escape. Scenario exercises are resolved by participants using the information provided in this course.

3.0

3.5

Legal Issues in Corrections

This course provides cadets an introductory overview of prison case law with a particular emphasis on areas of legal liability for the correctional officer.  Cadets are provided a historical review of this subject matter for application to current operations as well as an understanding of emerging legal issues or future trends in order to be a more responsive corrections' professional.

General correctional legal issues, significant constitutional rights of inmates and common areas of potential liability for the correctional officer are also discussed.

3.0

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4.0 COMMUNICATION - 13.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

4.1

Report Writing

Cadets are introduced to report writing and the use of proper and concise written communication techniques. The primary types of reports used in an institution are introduced. Cadets are taught how to complete both the common form reports and narrative reports. Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar are emphasized as well as the importance of the Officer’s observation skills. Report writing includes practical experience in completing the following ADC forms: Information Reports, Significant Incident Reports, Discipline, Memos, Property Inventory and Use of Force.

2.0 

4.2

Direct Supervision Communication

This course describes effective communication skills and how officers use them to gain the cooperation of inmates and their compliance with staff directivesThe goal of this course is to empower officers to effectively manage inmates.

3.0

 4.3

Radio and Telephone Communications

This course explains ADC and FCC regulations pertaining to two-way radio operation and use of 10-codes and the phonetic alphabet. Demonstration of correct use of radio communications equipment and proper telephone communication techniques are addressed. All Cadets are issued a radio to use and practice with during the Academy.

2.0

 4.5

Communicating with the Public

This course is designed to impress upon participants the need to act and communicate in a professional manner in all interactions with co-workers and the public. It presents participants with specific methods to that end and incorporates a video of staff/public interactions for class analysis.

2.0

4.6

(a) Cultural Awareness – Dimensions in Diversity

This course discusses ways that culture impacts interpersonal relationships. The strength of the diversity of the ADC workforce and importance of honoring that diversity to build a stronger agency is emphasized. Effective communication, which includes understanding different points of view, is discussed.

2.0

(b) Cultural Awareness - Inmate Culture

This course defines culture and explores its influence on individual behavior, specifically the inmate population. The curriculum identifies the diversity of ADC inmates and how the differences are intensified by the prison environment. Emphasis is placed on effective communication with the diverse inmate population and how crucial it is to the safety and security of the prison.

2.0

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5.0 OFFICER SAFETY - 39.5 Hours

Title

Description

hours

5.1

(a) Firearms Familiarization

This course introduces Cadets to the basic shooting principles of the primary weapons used by Correctional Officers. Sight picture, loading, unloading and the various shooting positions are covered. ADC Department Order 804.07, Use of Force, is reviewed and discussed during the classroom module.

8.0

(b) Handgun Qualification

Actual range training with a service handgun is provided. Each Cadet is required to fire a minimum number of practice rounds. This includes drills in possible weapon malfunctions and practice qualification courses The Cadet must demonstrate proficiency and achieve the minimum qualification score to successfully complete the training.

19.0

(c) Shotgun Qualification

Actual range training with a service shotgun is provided. Each cadet is required to fire a minimum number of rounds. This includes drills in loading and unloading.  The Cadet must demonstrate proficiency and achieve the minimum qualification score to successfully complete the training.

3.0

5.2

Chemical Agents

Cadets are instructed in the tactical and lawful use of chemical agents and the identification of major chemical agents by color coding and effect. Decontamination procedures for each chemical agent and the proper treatment for exposure are also covered. Cadets are exposed to CS and OC gas as a part of the familiarization process and are trained in the use of OC aerosols.

 3.0

 

5.3

Target Identification/ Discrimination

This course shall discern whether the student has demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Make an immediate and accurate assessment of a given condition to determine the potential use of deadly force
  2. Make an immediate and accurate selection of an individual who may pose life threatening endangerment
  3. Immediately and accurately discern a life threatening individual and use reasonable force as may be necessary to establish control
  4. Make an immediate and accurate target identification under stressful conditions. The Cadet must successfully complete a block of shoot/don't shoot scenarios. Qualification will be pass/fail. Firing on the wrong target or failing to fire on a life threatening target will disqualify the student

2.0

5.4

Designated Armed Response Team (DART) Training

Lecture and intensive practical application to provide DART team members with the skills and tactics required to isolate and contain disorderly inmates. Instruction is presented within the context of the emergency systems and includes basic tactical formations, command and control techniques, crowd control techniques, weapons handling and deployment, deployment of chemical munitions and the actual firing of less than lethal munitions on the Defensive Tactical Weapons Course. Students will observe and simulate firing of specialty munitions and will observe deployment of selected live chemical munitions. Cadets participate in two simulated DART drills during the Academy.

2.5

 5.5

Carrying Concealed Weapons Supplemental Training

This course introduces Correctional Officers to the legal responsibilities of carrying a concealed weapon off-duty. The course describes the Officers' responsibility when in contact with any law enforcement officer, locations where it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon, types of firearms which may be carried, proper maintenance and care of weapons, levels of mental awareness required when carrying a weapon, an overview of Department Policy and a review of authorized use of force, specifically deadly force.

2.0

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6.0 APPLIED SKILLS - 45.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

6.1

Searches and Contraband

Contraband is defined according to ADC Policies and State Law. Included are common methods of introducing contraband into a facility, the differences between nuisance and hazardous contraband, the Correctional Officer's role in controlling contraband and the impact of drugs and contraband in prison. Explanation is given on the types of searches allowed and the circumstances under which each may be conducted, per applicable ADC Policies. Also included are the impact of the Fourth Amendment and related court cases on searches of inmates and their cells and the conditions under which inmates, their visitors, volunteers and ADC employees may be subjected to searches. Search techniques are demonstrated and Cadets conduct the various searches utilizing the prison simulation cells and day room.

4.0 

6.2

Transportation and Restraints

Describes the methods used for transporting inmates, the steps to be completed prior to transportation, restraint requirements in terms of custody level, ADC Policy, safety factors and the different types of restraints and when and how they are used. Application of waist-chains and leg irons is demonstrated and Cadets are taught to apply restraints safely. Numerous practical application drills and scenarios are conducted in the prison simulation cells and day room

7.0

6.3

Count Procedures

This course introduces Cadets to the function of accountability and counts as the major means used to maintain custody. The different types of counts; formal, informal, emergency are detailed and demonstrated. Also discussed are A-Z rosters and health and welfare checks. Cadets practice doing counts during meal times in the dining hall and during scenarios in prison simulation cells and day room.

2.0

6.4

Reality Institution Practical Applied Skills Field Training

Cadets demonstrate practical application of skills learned in all training modules; effective security, custody and control, restraints, searches, supervision, inmate property management and counts. Cadets work a full work week at the actual institution they will be assigned to when they graduate COTA. This gives them an opportunity to become familiar with the complex and the staff they will be working with. Cadets are assigned a Field Training Officer (FTO) and work under their supervision to successfully complete a checklist of skills and related learning items.

16.0

6.5

Cell Extractions

Cadets will learn the circumstances under which cell extractions might be conducted as well as examine the "use of force" considerations and the important safety aspects. They will practice a "walk through" cell extraction in the simulator cells. Scenarios are included to give the Cadet an opportunity to practical the skills they have learned.

3.0

6.6

Progressive Maximum Restraints

Cadets are instructed in the legal application of maximum restraints according to ADC Policy. Instructors will demonstrate how restraints are applied. Cadets are given an opportunity to apply the restraints under supervision of the instructors.

 2.0

6.7

Inmate Property Management

This course introduces Cadets to the treatment and management of inmate property per ADC policy. Instruction specifies limits for allowable property, methods of accountability of inmate property to include an inmate's personal property inventory and when, where and how an inmate property inventory is conducted. Emphasis is on conducting accurate property inventories and proper completion of all accompanying paperwork. Scenarios and practical exercises are included during simulated inmate property inventories in CB-9 using actual inmate property items.

4.0

6.8

Inmate Urine Collection 

This course is designed to aid in the standardization of methods and documentation procedures used to collect urine from ADC inmates. It emphasizes the importance of following correct collection procedures, "chain of custody" and the correct way to complete all paperwork. The course is designed to improve the enforcement of the "No Inmate Drug Use" policy.

1.0

6.9

Defensive Driving and Van Dynamics

This course teaches the fundamentals of safe driving to all staff that will use a state vehicle.  It discusses traffic law, the human and legal aspects of defensive driving and the risks of driving a van.  The course requires participants to demonstrate the ability to control a van during a practical driving test.  The goal of this class is to reduce van accidents and increase the safe driving practices of ADC staff.

6.0

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7.0 SECURITY, CUSTODY & CONTROL - 18.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

7.1

Security, Custody and Control

This course presents the criteria for custody levels of inmates. It describes the operations and physical layout of the institutions by custody level and the general security systems. Also addressed are Tool and Key Control procedures within institutions and work programs. ADC Policy is reviewed as to legal issues relating to mail and property. Cadets are exposed to the staffing levels in institutions and the process by which management determines where Correctional Officers will be reassigned if needed when levels fall below proscribed staffing levels.

6.0

7.2

(a) Introduction to ICS/Emergency Procedures

The Incident Management System (IMS) standardizes ADC response to, management of and reporting of all incidents from minor to major. It is taught to COTA cadets as part of their introduction to management and response issues in general emergencies, disturbances, hostage situations and inmate escapes. The IMS is applied to each and all of these situations. Cadets engage in IMS simulation drills throughout the Academy.

6.0

(b) Surviving Hostage Situations

This course gives participants knowledge, skills & attitudes necessary for staff to survive a hostage situation with the least amount of physical and/or mental injury possible. The 4 types of hostage takers and those who may be at risk of being taken hostage are identified. It discusses the four primary goals of ADC in a hostage situation, the Stockholm syndrome and participants are given information to assist them in becoming a survivor vs. a "Victim". 

3.0

 7.3

Crime Scene Protection

Cadets are provided instruction on the initial steps to follow upon discovery of a potential crime scene. They learn how to identify possible evidence, preserve evidence at the scene of a crime and the legal requirements of crime scene protection. They are taught how to seal off and manage the crime scene.

2.0

7.5

Protective Segregation

This Policy-based lesson plan is an introduction to Protective Segregation and a detailed explanation of ADC Policy. Cadets learn to respond immediately to a PS issue and what their role is.

1.0

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8.0 CONFLICT AND CRISIS MANAGEMENT - 53.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

8.1

Non-Violent Crisis/Conflict Resolution

The class introduces Cadets to the concept of non-forceful crisis and conflict resolution in correctional institutions. The course provides them with a basic overview of how to affect positive solutions using basic intervention techniques. Practical Skills Crisis/Conflict in a Correctional Institution – 3.0 Hours Utilizing a series of role play scenarios, Cadets are offered the opportunity to practice how to affect positive, non-forceful solutions to crises, potentially violent and violent conflict in a correctional institution using basic intervention techniques.

16.0

8.2

Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT)

This course presents a brief introduction to ADC’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) program.  Included in this training is information on how CIRT interfaces with IMS, the types of incidents that require a response from CIRT members, and how to access CIRT.  Scenarios of critical incidents describing actual events are presented and discussed.

1.0

8.3

Self-Defense Training

This course addresses the issues surrounding necessary and legal self-defense in a correctional environment. Self defensive strategies are the last resort aspect of crisis management. Cadets practice techniques and gain the knowledge necessary to protect themselves and/or others when confronted by a physically violent inmate. Practical demonstrations and hands-on practice is a vital component of this training. This training is throughout the 9 week academy which provides a more in-depth and lasting skill set that Cadets will take with them on the job.

36.0

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9.0 MEDICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH – 33.0 Hours

Title

Description

hours

9.1

CARE

CARE (Correctional Analysis and Response to Emergencies) is a basic rescuer course utilizing a chain of survival which teaches prioritizing actions. The course deals specifically with Correction’s issues and includes assessment, IMS, securing the scene, the primary survey, injuries/illnesses and the medical notification process. Participants will demonstrate competence in infant, child and adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation and foreign-body airway obstruction.

7.0

9.2

Communicable Disease Control

This course describes the infection cycle, universal precautions and prevention measures for tuberculosis, hepatitis A, B, C and HIV and MRSA. It identifies the employee’s responsibility for reporting hazardous exposures and follow-up procedures to acquire Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. It explains procedures for cleaning up biohazard spills and the role of the Occupational Health Unit.

2.0

9.3

Alcohol & Other Drugs

This class provides Cadets with the knowledge to identify the signs and symptoms of drug/substance abuse among adult inmates. Includes the different types of narcotics, drugs, and substances abused in prisons and what the impact of those substances could be to include, mood changes, overdose, extortion, debt, violence and threat to the safety and security of the institution.

2.0

9.4

Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace

This class examines the safety and security issues caused by staff use of alcohol and illegal drugs in the correctional environment. The cause of staff abuse of drugs is studied and the impact on the institution so as to develop a personal plan for each Officer so they can avoid being part of the problem (as when they ignore signs and behaviors indicative of substance abuse at work).

2.0

9.5

Physical Fitness Training

This course introduces Cadets to the F.I.T.T. (Frequency Intensity Time Type) principals for physical exercise. It emphasizes the importance of adopting and maintaining a physical fitness program as a means of reducing stress and promoting health and safety. Cadets must participate in flexibility, strength and aerobic conditioning exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, calf raises and running) and pass a mandatory physical fitness evaluation.

17.5

9.6

Introduction to Health Services

The class gives an overview of the Inmate Health Services Division discussing its structural design and functions within the Arizona Department of Corrections. It reviews the importance of delivery of health care to inmates as a constitutional right and the Correctional Officers’ role in accomplishing this task. The instructor discusses the role of the Occupational Health Unit and the services provided to a Correctional Officer to help them maintain their personal health.

1.0

9.7

(a)Signs & Symptoms

This course provides an overview of mental disorders and the management of the mentally disordered inmate. A practical exercise is used to practice recognizing signs and symptoms of mental disorders and referral strategies. This course emphasizes the major categories of mental disorders and the multiple areas of life affected by mental disorders.

1.5

(b) Suicide Prevention

This course is designed to assist cadets in recognizing and responding to inmate behaviors, which suggest that the inmate is at risk for attempting suicide.  The course will teach cadets about inmates who may be at risk for suicide; high risk times; locations and methods; incidents and situations that may trigger a suicide attempt; possible signs of suicidal intent; the role of ADC staff in preventing suicide; and how to cope with attempted or completed suicides.

2.0