WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 18, 2013, 10:51 PM

Rasmussen College and Cass County have new partnership for training classes for new correctional officers

Bismarck, ND (WDAY TV) - The need for correctional officers is rising in North Dakota along with a growing population.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Bismarck, ND (WDAY TV) - The need for correctional officers is rising in North Dakota along with a growing population.

And the mandatory basic training classes new officers take in Bismarck are running out of space.

They're calling them the "Rasmussen Nine," the first class to graduate from a new partnership between Cass County and Rasmussen College.

It's a way for the local Sheriff's office to work more closely with their hires and offer more options for a growing field.

Sarah Lavelle is embarking on a new career, working in a jail.

Sarah Lavelle/Corrections Academy Graduate: "I feel very privileged and honored that we got chosen to be the first group ever."

With their graduation from Rasmussen College Corrections Academy, Lavelle and eight other new deputies joined the Cass County team of corrections officers.

This is the first time a private program has offered the mandatory 12-week Basic Training before this, all potential hires trained in Bismarck through the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

But with oil booming out west and population growth throughout the state, it's become tough to score seats in those classes.

Capt. Judy Tollefson/Cass County Jail: "Oftentimes, we've found, by the time we're able to send them to Bismarck for the class, they've had their field training with us, they've been working in the jail, and by the time they get out there, there is nothing new for them to learn."

The corrections field in North Dakota is expected to grow 10 percent in the next five years… so this training in Fargo provides more option

And gives Cass County officers a chance to work directly with the new hires.

Lavelle: "Current employees with the Cass County Sheriff's office came in and taught this class, rather than random professors. So, it gave us really good insight into actual experience rather than through books."

The Cass County jail is adding 13 new positions this year, that plus vacant positions means 22 new hires, their biggest since the jail opened in 2002.

Rasmussen College plans to offer the Corrections Academy again in April.