How much do you trust an inmate who helps you?

In this scenario, an inmate helps an officer who has seemingly lost his keys — what should be the reply?

Nov 27, 2015

By Anthony Gangi, C1 Columnist

As the shift comes to an end, Officer Smith finds himself frantically looking for the keys to the unit. He begins to retrace his steps and runs his daily routine through his mind. Nervously, he tours the wings of the unit and comes up empty. Just as he is about to lose hope, Inmate Johnson approaches Officer Smith and places the keys on his desk. With a deep breath of relief, Officer Smith quickly thanks the inmate for finding the keys and then orders the inmate to go back to his bed area.

As the relief Officer comes in for shift change, Officer Smith tells him what just occurred. In response, Officer Jones calls the inmate to the front of the unit and tells the inmate to grab a seat in the day area.

With concern, Officer Smith asks, “What are you doing?”

Officer Jones replies, “I am calling a supervisor and sending the inmate to lock.”

In shock, Officer Smith says, “Why would you do that? He is the one that gave me back the keys.”

Officer Jones, in frustrations, states, “He also could be the one that took the keys. This could be a game that the inmate is playing and I’d rather err on caution.”

Officer Smith believes that the inmate actually helped him find his keys and, therefore, should not be punished. Officer Jones, being unsure if the inmate helped or actually took the keys as a way to employ some type of game (obligation), wants the inmate removed from the unit and sent to lock.

Is Officer Smith gullible, or is Officer Jones right (erring on caution… this could be a setup)?

About the author

‘Training Scenarios’ are intended to draw the reader into the discussion and create a repository of differing viewpoints on a single subject. These scenarios are intended for training purposes only. Though the scenarios are drawn from real-world incidents, no one scenario talks about a specific person or place. If you have questions or ideas for a ‘Training Scenario,’ please email



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