Detention Officer Thrives In Career She Loves

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Michelle Daly has seen people at their worst in her four years as a detention officer for the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

The best way to deal with people at those times, is by remembering "the Cs," she said. "Care, custody and control."

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Michelle Daly has worked as a detention officer for the Gila County Sheriff's Office for four years.

"Control" is making the inmate do what she wants them to do, when she wants them to do it.

"Custody" is ensuring they are incarcerated and "care" is making sure their needs are met, like being fed.

When Daly clocks in, one of the first things she does is a headcount to ensure all the inmates are accounted for. She is also briefed on anything that may have happened that day.

"Every day is different," she said.

The GCSO jail has 27 beds and usually is incarcerating 14 to 27 inmates at a time.

There are times, she said, when there are not enough beds to go around, resulting in some inmates having to sleep on the floor.

"Now, we get 30 to 40 arrests a week," she said.

Despite the stress of a busy jail, Daly said she has found a career she loves.

"It's so rewarding," she said. "This is something I wanted to do my whole life. What I like most about it is the constant change. It keeps you on your toes."

Daly said no inmate has ever escaped on her watch.

"When I am working here, no one gets out. I guarantee you that," she said.

She said there was an attempt where an inmate thought he was going to make it out a door.

"It didn't happen," she said.

More than escape attempts, the biggest problem she deals with are the fights that are the result of inmates living together in a small area.

"It happens, and you have to take control," she said.

The biggest jail cell the GCSO has is a 12-bed cell with a table in the middle. This cell is 300 square feet.

There are also two four-bed cells, three two-bed cells and one cell that has one bed.

This cell, she said, is for combative inmates. It is under constant supervision through a camera.

"It's part of being a detention officer," she said. "You have to stop (fighting)."

Part of the jail is segregated for female inmates.

There are cases when inmates will spend two years in the county jail.

Daly said the Globe jail is usually the location used when a person is going to spend a considerable amount of time in custody, mentioning a murder case as one example.

The GCSO jail is also use by the Payson Police Department for their arrests.

Daly said most of the inmates at the Payson jail are serving time for DUI, drugs and domestic violence.

"I have seen some crazy stuff," she said.

"Until I got this job, I did not know the extent of the drug problem (here)."

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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