Go with me to those thrilling days of yesteryears when you were still in school. Remember how you would get up (maybe not too hurriedly), get dressed, grab a bite of breakfast and head out for another day of classes? You got to the campus, would hang outside for a few minutes visiting with friends and as the morning sun would shine down everyone would discuss what great things they were going to do on the weekend. Then suddenly, the bell would ring and that meant you had to get to class.

As you entered the class you went to the same seat you started the school year off with.  As the teacher walked in, all seemed right with the world. Then you heard those words!  Good morning class.  Please put your books and papers away. We are having a pop test today.

I have come to find out that just because I am no longer in school it does not preclude me from walking in and finding out a “pop test” is about to start. Such was the case last Monday at 8 a.m.  At that time a state jail Inspector popped in and surprised us with a visit. She let us know she was here to conduct a jail inspection. So for 8 hours a day on Feb. 24 and 25, we had a major “pop test” by an Inspector to evaluate if our county jail met state standards.

During this two day “test” the Inspector checked and reviewed our construction, life safety equipment (to include an impromptu drill), our book-in and release procedures, our classification files, health services, state licenses and certifications of detention officers, personal hygiene, sanitation, food service, inmate disciplinary hearing records, inmate grievance procedures, checked the inmate exercise areas, inmate library, work assignments, inmate phone availability, inmate correspondence policies, commissary for inmates, inmate visitation, religious services and ensured we are conducting our CCQ inquires through TLETS as required. The Inspector also interviewed several employees and inmates.

When all the areas to be inspected are completed the Inspector meets with the sheriff and at least one member of the commissioners court; preferably the county judge. (In this case the judge and I were both present.) The Inspector talks about their visit, answers any questions the judge or I may have and provides a written inspection report.

Unlike some of my school days when I may not have been entirely prepared for a pop test; we were ready here at the jail. The Inspector’s report states, “This facility was inspected on the date(s) indicated above. There were no deficiencies noted and upon review of this report by the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, a certificate of Compliance may be issued per the requirements of VTCA, Chapter 511 and Texas Minimum Jail Standards.”

WE PASSED!

The Inspector also shared a personal observation during her exit interview. She said she noticed how well the detention staff worked together and how clean our facility is.

Thank you Captain Terry Ogden, (our jail administrator), and the entire jail staff for making Ellis County proud and for maintaining a 100 percent pass rate on the jail inspections since I have been sheriff.

Y’all have a Blessed Week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.