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NMJC Corrections Assistant Director Named to Dept. of Justice Position

NMJC Corrections Assistant Director Named to Dept. of Justice Position	 photo 11/22/2008 10:20:37 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. Naomi Phillips admits that she never intended to go into the corrections side of law enforcement as a career, so it came as a bit of a surprise when she learned she had been appointed not only to a national position in corrections training, but also to one of its highest ranking boards.

Last week, Phillips, who serves as Assistant Director of New Mexico Junior College's Corrections Academy Training program in the Division of Public Safety, received word that she has been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice - National Institute of Corrections to serve as a NIC Regional Field Training Coordinator for the western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. In addition, she has been asked to sit on the NIC National Board for Regional Training Initiatives, which is comprised of only 16 people across the nation.

According to Dr. August Fons, Dean of the Division of Public Safety, the request is not only a direct result of Phillips' excellent work in training but also her willingness to pursue and establish productive working partnerships with regional, state and national industry agencies. "Being selected as a Regional Field Coordinator is impressive in and of itself, but to be asked to be a member of a national board for the U.S. Department of Justice is remarkable," said Fons. "It speaks very highly of Naomi's commitment to professionalism and excellence in training, not to mention that it puts NMJC and Hobbs on the map."

In addition to her professionalism and experience, Fons also credits Phillips' intentional approach to work and life with the appointment. "In attending conferences, Naomi went in order to learn as well as to develop partnerships, and she was extremely successful at both. And although she doesn't take much credit for it, she's also developed a very positive working relationship with the State of New Mexico Department of Corrections," he said. "We're extremely proud of her for what she's achieved."

For Phillips, who has been in corrections for eight years, this appointment is a real opportunity to make a difference for both the NMJC Corrections Academy and other agencies, such as jails, juvenile detention centers, and any other facility that maintains
inmates. "I've attended training conferences in a number of places, such as Missouri, Louisina, and Arizona, and I also go to Santa Fe a lot, so it's a great way to learn more about and from others," she said. "I'll go to Colorado in December to my first meeting as a Regional Field Coordinator, and I'm looking forward to it," she said. "From there, we'll put on a training course here at NMJC, probably sometime between March and June."

When asked in what areas she is qualified to train, she explained that it could be in areas ranging from cultural diversity or interpersonal communications to the use of chemical agents, such as CS gas or pepper spray, or defensive tactics, such as taking down opponents by focusing on pressure points or even using non-lethal electrical voltage to subdue them. Whatever corrections training an agency is lacking, Phillips is prepared and qualified to teach.

Growing up, Phillips says, she was always interested in the idea of police work, but never even considered corrections for herself. "Most people assume that only men can handle inmates," she said, "but I know now that women can do it too, if they're determined and prepared." To women who are contemplating a career in law enforcement, Phillips suggests considering corrections -- with one caveat. "It's not for everybody, but if you're strong and strong-minded, I would go for it. Whether it's corrections or something else, don't feel intimidated by any profession dominated by men; if you feel confident within yourself, you can do anything."

And as for making it all the way up to the national level, Phillips has one last tip. "Growing up with three brothers helps prepare you for a position like this," she laughed.

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