GREAT FALLS — Participants of the Cascade County Sheriff's Office Citizens’ Academy are getting an up-close look at the inner workings of the Cascade County Detention Center. They're learning more about the men and women in charge of the care, custody, and control of the inmates there.
For Brian and Jill Aliperto, what they are learning during the program hits close to home.
“We have two sons that both work for the Sheriff’s Office,” said Brian, a member of this year’s Citizens’ Academy. “We just thought this would be a great opportunity to see what they do on a day-to-day basis and how we can be of support.”
The second session of the academy included a tour of the detention center where Ben Aliperto serves as a training officer. “You kind of just have to find that mental check where you leave work at work and leave home at home,” said Ben, whose brother Jordan works in the detention center’s booking division. “For me, it was always when I clocked out. It's kind of nice having a little bit of a drive up here because it was kind of enough drive to decompress and get ready for home.”
Ben and Jordan are among a detention center staff of more than 90 charged with the care, custody, and control of more than 400 county, state, and federal inmates.
“I think it takes a special person to be able to spend a lot of time there and so I have so much respect for the men and women that actually give of themselves to working in the facility and serving our community that way,” said Jill, a member of this year’s Citizens’ Academy.
The job can be challenging, but just like the support of his own family, Ben feels confident in the support of his brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
“We come in every day facing the same issues and we really are able to relate to one another,” said Ben. “It’s definitely a different environment. It’s definitely a different working place than you would find elsewhere, so being able to have that person you can relate to and even lean on during those times you need to is really why I like to come to work every day.”
Sheriff Jesse Slaughter says the academy is a great way to build relationships with the community and provide transparency. “There’s no secrets, this is a public office. There’s criminal justice information that’s buried in reports and computers that people can’t see, but the rest of this, this is the public’s building, this their office. So we want to open our doors to them and build a relationship so we understand one another, just have a better understanding of our community.”
This is the third Citizens Academy since Slaughter took office in 2019. During the eight-week program, attendees meet staff of the Sheriff's Office, see what they do to help make the community safe, tour the jail, participate in a ride-along, and get some hands-on experience with the tools and equipment they use.