Madison County Jail CERT team members avoid potential security risk during last week’s snow

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT)-- When the going on the roads gets tough during a snowstorm, some of Madison County's toughest law enforcement get going. They set in motion a plan to run the jail.

"We have to be prepared to bring in officers, staff, to be sure the jail still functions like it's just a normal day," said the jail's Corrections Emergency Response Team supervisor, Sergeant Christopher Love.

When snow gets as heavy as it did last week, many people may have trouble making it in to work.

But when those people work at a jail, it's not just a snow day. That's a possible security risk.

"Due to some of the high risk inmates that we house, it could very well possibly be that they might want to take advantage of the low amount of staff [we might] have," explained Christ Harmond, a CERT squad leader.

Image courtesy of the Madison County Sheriff's Office

CERT team. Image courtesy of the Madison County Sheriff's Office

The CERT team is usually responsible for, among other things, inmate transports, inmate medical issues, and responding to any emergencies that could happen in the jail. Sergeant Love explained their duties shifted during the snow into an essential taxi service for employees, with safety being the priority.

"We got our vehicles and vans equipped with snow chains... we started picking people up [to take them to work here]," he said. Love said CERT members from the jail dropped off and picked up employees who might otherwise have been stranded at work, or unable to come in at all. He added that many other employees stayed late or came in early to compensate for the weather.

But it's not just officers who need to be at work at the jail. There are still so many things to do to care for the 750 inmates housed there.

So the CERT team also picked up nurses, doctors, and clerks.

"They play a critical part in what we do," said Harmond.

These men and women face many of our fears every day, willingly and enthusiastically.

"There's dedicated people who come in here despite being harassed, being cursed at, feces thrown on them," explained Love. He said they have to love their jobs, and those dedicated people certainly do. They've proven this week that they'll be there, regardless of the weather.

"People don't see that we're not just people who lock up inmates and throw away the key," said Love, citing all the services the jail provides, from re-entry programs to health monitoring that benefit inmates.

Love says he's proud of the jail staff, who came together in a unique situation last week.