If you want to understand Deputy Chief Kevin Henderson’s vision, just read the worn sign posted in his office.
The sign was the first item Henderson brought into his new office this month as jail administrator for the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center’s 956-bed corrections facility.
“If you don’t have the determination to do it, it’s not going to get done,” Henderson reiterated. “I want people to see this.”
His second sign reads, “Winners don’t wait for chances. They take them.”
"When you see the signs, you can’t help but buy in and determine to be successful,” Henderson said.
He hopes the signs will guide the detention staff to be successful and believe in possibilities.
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Henderson became the deputy chief after serving 30 years in corrections at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Division of Corrections. His last duty was serving as chief of security.
“I want us to be the model correctional facility,” Henderson said of his vision. “I want to offer dynamic training and eliminate the stereotype of correctional officers.”
His first week on the job showed the corrections staff seems to be motivated, engaged in their duties and willing to work. He’s learning the culture.
Henderson displays investment in the correctional officers and listening to their ideas.
“I want people to feel comfortable,” Henderson said “I don’t like people walking on eggshells around me.”
During the interview, an inmate worker entered his office to remove the trash. Henderson learned she was going to be released on Thanksgiving Day.
Henderson asked about her plans after release.
She told him she planned to take care of her three children, return to her former job and stay away from the former friends who took illegal drugs together.
Henderson encouraged her to write down reasonable goals and meet the goals to be successful.
“What I want you to do today is write down the goals and keep them with you,” Henderson told her. “That will remind you what you’re trying to do.”
As she left the office, she replied she would write down the goals and show him the goals the next day.
"You can’t beat people down and expect them to get back up,” Henderson said of building up the inmate’s confidence.
The chief wants to be involved in the community. He intends to talk with high school students to help prevent criminal activities.
“If you can get them at the front end, you don’t have to worry about the back end,” Henderson said. “We need to aggressively start getting involved in schools.”
Henderson hopes to be involved in the Veterans Court since he is a 25-year veteran and Drug and DUI Courts since he is a former drug and alcohol counselor.
The chief hopes to recruit new correctional officers by meeting with criminal justice professors and the community.
Being a correctional officer is a good job with good benefits like insurance and retirement.
For the present staff, Henderson wants to give correctional officers the opportunity to be heard.
Henderson is determined to be lead the correctional officers to be successful and determined.
“It’s possible,” Henderson said.