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California Guards Assigned Word Puzzles to Satisfy Training Requirements

California State Assembly Member Rudy Bermudez, himself a member of the powerful prison guards union (CCPOA) while on leave from his prison job to serve elective office, sharply criticized the practice of solving word puzzles used by California prison guards to complete part of their annual training requirement.

It's unbelievable what they're doing. Just totally unacceptable."
California guards must complete 52 hours of annual retraining in such things as firearms, use of force and prisoner transportation. Of this, only 40 hours are hands on." Pursuant to a union contract change effective July, 2004, the remaining 12 hours may be earned by studying bulletins pertaining to policy changes, rules updates and solving puzzles.

One exercise involved guards finding the names of professional football teams hidden among jumbled letters. Another sought the hidden words elf," snow," and gingerbread." Guards were given the training material and told to complete the puzzles while on duty guarding prisoners, Bermudez reported. This was particularly embarrassing in light of the Inspector General's report on the January 10, 2005 murder of a Chino State Prison guard that was tied to lax training, among other problems.

A union spokesman blamed the puzzle practice on a lack of funding for real training. CCPOA Vice-President Lance Corcoran predicted that because of woeful underfunding," guards will continue to train by doing word searches and handwriting exercises."

Source: Associated Press.

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