WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
Kiva Hill says a lot of people don’t understand her work and have misgivings about her chosen profession as a corrections officer.
“Depending on where you are from or your background some people have a stigma about jail and jail guards. Some of my friends that I grew up with had a stigma,” she said. “Working there I’ve come to see that no, it’s actually not a bad profession at all.”
Hill has been with the Corrections Department for five years and is now a lieutenant in the Regional Corrections Center (RCC). Working at the jail wasn’t something she had planned but found that she excelled at it.
“It was one of those things. You know how in life you’re not really looking for a corrections type job but you always wonder if I can do that? It was one of those things where I was going to try it and see,” she said. Hill applied for the job, went through the interview process and was offered the job. “So I was like ok let’s try it and it turned out that the people who helped me along the way, who trained me along the way, they made everything so wonderful to where five years later here I am a lieutenant and I’ve learned so much along the way.”
She said being a female working in the male dominated facility, “is most certainly interesting.” When she first started in corrections there weren’t very many women, but the numbers have increased dramatically. But even with the increased number of female coworkers, there are still unique challenges.
“With there being more you still run into challenges where you walk into a module and even with lieutenant’s bar you get comments from inmates. Those things I guess will never go away. But you take them as part of the job and you don’t take anything personal, I’m just here to do a good job,” she said.
Being the mother of twin elementary aged daughters has also had an effect on her attitude. She will sometimes go to their school and talk to the children to let them know that jail is not where they want to end up.
“Sometimes the things you see other people doing you think that they are cool but at the end of the day those so-called cool things will wind you up here and once you come here it is really hard to get out of the system. It’s easy to get in, it’s hard to get out,” she said.
Hill also mentors preteen and teenage girls at Hilltop Residential Center. “A lot of them have already started down the path and I try to get them to realize, hey wake up, because this is not where you want to be.
She not only shows her big heart to the youth she mentors, but also to inmates. As the chairman of the employee recognition committee, she started a coat and shoe drive for inmates.
“A lot of times in the winter we have more people coming into the city side of the jail when it gets cold and when the first snow hits you see an influx in RCC inmates. They will tell you when they get released, ‘All right Ms. Hill I’m going to see you next winter.’ So what we did is we had a clothing drive so that when these people are getting released and transitioning back in to society they have coats, they have shoes.” she said.
Hill is now working to get approval on a project to partner with Harvesters and Abundant Life Church to provide care packages to inmates in need when they are released.
She said, “We already provide them with bus passes when they get released and now we are providing them with coats, clothing and shoes. Then next is simply to provide them with resources and food and that is what we are working on now and hoping to get approval.”
“I really care about that kind of stuff. At the end of the day inmates are people and they come here because there is an underlying problem or thing they are trying to get resolved and if we can meet the physical then maybe they can figure out the rest and we can reduce them coming back into the system,” she said.
In addition to her regular duties Hill is also a member of the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the past three years.
“CERT Team is all about comradery, being there with each other when you are going in to situations where you may walk into a situation where you have to go in and there is some type of use of force. The thing that is going to be important is just making sure that you all have each other’s back. At the end of the day the goal is for everybody to go home the same way that they came,” she said.
CERT Commander Captain John Cloonan said that Hill is now in more of a supervisory position that as a tactical member. A lot of the things she does for CERT are training outlines and training with the Disturbance Control Team.
“Lt. Hill is outstanding in everything she does,” Cloonan said. “She is gung-ho with training, she loves to put training together, she loves to do training so she is a real asset to the team.”
Hill really enjoys her job and said if someone is thinking about a career in corrections she suggests they try it out. “People live their lives not trying things. Try it. Give it your best effort you never know. You can make lifelong friends. You develop skills that you never knew you had. You build confidence, grow your self-esteem and build your interpersonal skills. It’s a fantastic place and if you like it you can move up. One day you may out rank me. I don’t know how because I am ambitious, but you may out rank me. So just give it a try. Why not just go for it? As the slogan says, ‘Let’s go and make things happen’.