Correctional Officers

sec_arr Introduction to Correctional Officers

Author: James Butler, MD, MPH, FACOEM, FAsMA, FAAFP, FIAIME and Gordon C. Steinagle, DO, MPH

Publication year: 2017


Introduction to Correctional Officers

This chapter addresses medical qualifications specific to correctional officers (COs) based on their essential job functions (see section on Job Functions below). The ACOEM Guidance for the Medical Evaluation of Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) addresses the health and safety of patrol officers (e.g., police officers, sheriff’s deputies, etc.), and should be considered the core document. Unless otherwise specified, medical qualifications for COs are the same as those contained in the other core LEO guidance chapters.

The purpose of this guidance is to promote the health and safety of COs while ensuring their ability to protect safety, life, and property. This guidance addresses the nexus between medical conditions and the ability or inability of COs to perform their job functions. It is intended to assist physicians in making individualized medical assessments of the CO’s ability to perform these job functions and to perform them safely.

The physician’s role is to recommend to the employer/agency which job functions the CO can or cannot perform safely and effectively. The employer/agency is responsible for making placement or retention decisions.

This guidance applies to all generic COs. Officers with specialized duties (e.g., emergency response team members, drivers, etc.) may need additional medical evaluation not covered in this document.

The types and levels of services provided by the CO determine his or her job function. Medical requirements for both candidates and active COs must correspond to their job functions as determined by the employer/agency.

This document contains four appendices. Appendix A provides background information that reviews the occupational differences between COs and LEOs as well as demographic, and epidemiological information. Appendix B presents an example of a physical fitness test for CO candidates (the Canadian FITCO), while Appendix C reviews fitness-for-duty testing presently performed by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Services at the Correction Officer’s Academy. Appendix D reviews the prevalence of infectious diseases in correctional facilities, and Appendix E contains information regarding issues encountered by the pregnant CO.