A life in prison: Arizona cadets develop physical skills to become corrections officers

TUCSON, Ariz. — Corrections Officer Training Academy, or COTA, in Tucson is wrapping up its seven week course training new cadets for a career working for the Arizona Department of Corrections.

The program gives cadets the opportunity to learn both physical and psychological demands of working with state inmate in minimum to maximum security.  Each cadet learns self-defense, has weapons training, and other techniques to work in the field.

Commander Ivan Bartos says they use the Cooper Fitness Standard.  This type of testing is used in military and other law enforcement agencies to access fitness ability and level.  During the three phase program they are expected to graduate in the 50th percentile of physical fitness testing.

The last week of the program each cadet is pepper sprayed.  Trainers say during this time anxiety is high but it is essential to understand what it is like for inmates who are sprayed with a chemical agent.  Class 1042 is graduating five new cadets on Friday November 20, 2015 who will start work at the Yuma state corrections facility on Monday. 

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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