Roosevelt County Detention Center Chief of Security Dent McGill took over the post less than three weeks ago. The Portales News-Tribune met with Portales resident McGill and ask him questions about his past and some of his future plans for safety at the center.
What made you apply for this position?
I needed a job. It’s his fault (points to Administrator David Casanova). He pursued me. And that was a relationship that was built up over several months. I coached his son with mine in football and my wife was his wife’s teacher at Clovis Community College.
When you started here, what line of work did you come from?
The last three years, I was the program director at the Baptist Children’s Home. I have worked a lot with juveniles and mental health patients. I’ve spent time in the pen. I’ve worked in law enforcement off and on for 20 years. I’ve worked with juveniles and adults with mental health problems probably six years overall.
What was the most challenging part of your previous work?
We’re seeing a lot more mental health problems than we did 20 years ago. I don’t know if that’s because there are more problems or we’re just seeing them a lot more now. It’s a job you have to have the mentality to do and still be able to care. Some mental health patients can’t even articulate what they want or need. That guy was in the state pen, because he had been used as a drug mule. Some guys had been giving him 20 bucks to drop off packages of cocaine. He didn’t know any better, didn’t know what he was doing or why he was in jail. That’s the sad part.
What are some things already in place with local law enforcement that you like?
If we didn’t have teen court here, there would be more juveniles in jail. Teen court gives them more of a second chance.
What are some things you are working on changing with the detention center?
We’ve started a lot of training with the officers. Yesterday, we did equipment training. The most important thing is to increase the confidence of our officers. We want to prepare them mentally and physically, so they have the confidence to do their job. We’ve identified a lot of areas where we need to grow. There’s a lot of potential here and a lot of training can happen.
What do you feel are the most important factors in your new job?
The most important thing is the safety of our officers. We need to send them home as safe as they were when they came here. The second is the safety of the public. The third is the safety of the inmates and keeping them from hurting themselves and others.