MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Sheriff’s Office first female corrections officer, Sgt. Theresa Swob of Covington, turned in her badge after serving 30 years keeping the peace inside the county jail.
Swob retired on July 15. Sgt. Swob started her career on July 14, 1986, being the first corrections officer hired at the jail. Prior to adding corrections officers, sheriff’s office deputies manned the jail.
“My heart is, and it still is, in the job. Just being there for anybody and doing anything I could to make a difference,” she said. “You have to have compassion for it. It’s rewarding but you have to have the mindset that it is what you really want to do.”
Swob shared how she has always wanted to be in law enforcement and applied for the position when she saw an ad in the newspaper 30 years ago.
“As corrections officers, we are keeping the ones that have broken the law in (jail) because you have to keep them safe, too,” Swob said. “We are protecting them from themselves, from each other and keeping deputies out on the road to keep us safe.”
It was in the corrections field that Swob said she found her niche in the law enforcement world.
“I have a lot of compassion for people. I like helping people. I listened to the inmates a lot. I listened to the corrections officers a lot. I would help try to guide them in the right direction,” Swob shared. “This was where the Lord put me and this was where I would stay.”
Swob remembers when she was the first female to monitor the men’s jail cell blocks when the county’s jail was contained to the downtown facility only.
“You had to put them in their place right away,” Swob recalled. “I wasn’t putting up with their whistling, I wasn’t putting up with their comments. I was an officer and they were going to treat me like one. You had to go in with that idea.”
Swob recalled working in the jail passing medication, meals and taking on general duties with only one other officer in the control room, holding up to 100 inmates in the downtown facility before the incarceration facility opened in 1999.
“The deputy would work the control room and I’d work all three floors. I’d book everybody in, feed them all, pass out all the medication. When I started there was like 80 to 100 inmates in the jail,” she said.
Today’s jail standards now only allow 48 inmates in the downtown facility.
With three decades of working with inmates incarcerated for a variety of reasons, Swob shared the good days, as well as the more challenging shifts, including a cell block riot and various occupational hazards.
“I’d remind them they had choices to make and give them examples of things to try to improve their lives or improve their lives,” she said. “Some inmates have come back and some never have. When I meet an inmate out on the street, they always come up and say ‘Hi’ and that’s nice. I’ve had them come up and thank me for things. They’ve said ‘I’ve changed my ways because of you.”
Swob shared how her faith carried her through the job’s more challenging times and said the key to spending 30 years as a C.O. was to start each work day with a fresh mind set.
“Each day is a new day,” she said.”Some inmates you do touch their lives and others just keep coming back.”
Swob said she’ll miss the interaction with her fellow officers. Swob shared she plans to stay busy during retirement with her gardening, church activities and being “Grandma Taxi.”
The Miami County Sheriff’s Office presented Swob with a plaque honoring her 30 years of service in the community.
The Miami County Sheriff’s Office is currently hiring correction officers. For more information, visit www.miamicountysheriff.org.
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