PERT Graduates Go Beyond the Basics

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - 1:33pm

The latest graduates of the Prison Emergency Response Team (PERT) basic training have joined an elite group of correctional officers in North Carolina. Prisons’ Chief of Security Kenneth Smith has often referred to PERT as, “the agency’s greatest resource due to the sheer numbers, experience and the broad scope of mission capabilities.”

The 19 newest members who received their certificates on June 28 after a week of intense physical and other training learned it doesn’t matter why they will be called to travel across the state to any of the 55 prisons. Nor will it matter what they will be asked to do because a PERT member not only provides security assistance but does whatever the job requires.

“They are not just called for security concerns within prisons,” said Smith. “They are the pride and joy of Prisons. Not only do they work in Prisons but they may be called to assist outside law enforcement agencies. Local law enforcement agencies have requested PERT assistance in missing persons cases, and have worked with K-9 and special operations. Whatever is asked of them, they do.”

This group of graduates spent the week at the North Carolina Forestry Training Facility in Newland. Every morning they underwent physical training at 5:30 a.m., ate breakfast and then participated in a variety of training exercises. They learned how to use gas masks and chemical munitions (smoke and gas) and spent time on the firing range to hone their shooting skills. 

After lunch, they learned proper building entry techniques, how to search a facility properly, how to work with teammates during a riot (marching in formation with protective gear), how to plan for an emergency mission and about legal issues they may face.
“It was more than I thought it would be,” said graduate Jessie McCarty, a correctional sergeant at Central Prison in Raleigh. “We picked each other up and pushed each other when we had to. We accepted the challenges and pushed each other to do our best.”

Darrell Sanderford, a correctional sergeant at Lanesboro Correctional Institution, said he was impressed by the experience and quality of the trainers.

“The instructors had a lot of experience,” he said. “Heck, the Chief of Security was one of our teachers. They did everything with us, which surprised me. I really feel confident in what they taught me.”

 Several of the graduates had either family or administrators from their facilities in attendance. Bertie Correctional Institution Warden John Sapper, himself a former PERT team member, was at the ceremony to support his correctional officer, Foster Peaks. However, he also wanted to show his support for his newest “teammates.”

“PERT is a calling,” Sapper said. “These are professional correctional employees. Not only do they work their regular job but they give up time with their families to go wherever they are called whether it’s in their region or across the state. Day or night, they show up in rough conditions. Not only do they get to meet top-notch staff, but they represent the best of DPS.”

The latest PERT graduates are: Colton Simon, Central Prison; Jesse McCarty, Central Prison; Manuel Marbet, North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women; Charles Vinson, Nash Correctional Institution; Peter Cipriano, Harnett CI; Darrell Sanderford, Lanesboro CI; Elisia Jackson, Lanesboro CI; William Shaw, Hoke CI; Todd McGill, Scotland CI; Joseph Greinke, Pender CI; Foster Peaks, Bertie CI; Shaquanda Meylor-Monace, Pamlico CI; Curtis Majette, Odom CI; Torris Norman, Odom CI; Michael Baker, Alexander CI; Daniel Dwire, Piedmont CI; Brandyn Sands, Forsyth Correctional Center; Adam Hayworth, Foothills CI; Steve Lytle, Marion CI.

The training instructors were: James “Jimmy” Mclain – Scotland CI; Robert Bishop – Greene CI; Wendy Hardy – Prison Administration; Steve “Doc” Jones – Foothills CI; Robert Calloway – Mountain View CI; Kenneth Smith – Chief of Security.

To view photos of the PERT training, please go to the DPS Flickr page


Jerry Higgins, Communications Officer