Jail administrator receives national certification

Published 6:31 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2018

With 28 years of experience spanning multiple agencies and positions, Lt. Kathryn Bryan knows a thing or two about law enforcement.

With 10 years in detention, three of which have been with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Bryan has recently added another feather to her cap — being named a Certified Jail Manager by the American Jail Association, one of only a handful in the state of North Carolina.

“They look primarily at experiential training specifically related to jail administration, educational background and how many years of experience you have actually running a jail,” Bryan said. “Then you have to qualify to sit for the exam, and the exam was challenging.”

Testing candidates’ knowledge over a broad spectrum of jail administration topics, the exam considered everything from the business and legal components of running a jail to administrative codes, staffing and inmate behavior management.

While Bryan has poured her energy into the detention center here in Beaufort County, her experience in law enforcement covers a lot of ground in her 28 years on the job. From working as a Military Police Officer with the U.S. Army to her time with the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Bryan has worked in patrol, investigations, narcotics, telecommunications and a number of supervisory roles. She began her tenure as jail administrator with the BCSO in 2015.

As to why she wanted to pursue the Certified Jail Manager designation, Bryan says that she viewed the exam as a chance to see how her performance stands among other administrators throughout the country.

“I think we all strive to be the best in our industry,” Bryan said. “There are some common measurements of that. There are degrees in the field and levels of promotion you can receive. I take so much pride in being a jail administrator that I wanted to know, from an independent source, that I was doing an OK job. I needed to know from a national accreditation standpoint that I am meeting the achievements that I need to meet to be responsible to the people that I serve.”

As to the people she serves, Bryan says she sees a wide spectrum falling into this category — including the general public, the officers under her supervision and the inmates in custody at the detention center. In their time at the detention center, Bryan hopes that inmates can find a different perspective on life.

From opportunities to work with literacy volunteers, to earning a GED or getting their Safe Serve certification, those who find themselves in jail have chances to pursue self-improvement. No matter what the circumstance, Bryan says she tries to always keep in mind the humanity of the people she is working with.

“We have an opportunity here to make a difference in people’s lives,” Bryan said. “Inmates are here for a certain period of time and they might be more receptive to hearing something that they were not before, and we’ve got this cadre of volunteers that is beating down the door to help the citizens of this community, who happen to be our inmates.”

In addition to her work with the BCSO, Bryan also runs a LLC specializing in assisting sheriff’s offices in defense arising from lawsuits related to detention facilities, officer training, policy writing and liability. She is a certified expert witness in federal court for detention operations.

Among her other accomplishments, Bryan has been a certified instructor for 17 years, teaching courses in law enforcement, telecommunications and detention management across the state. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at two community colleges teaching criminal justice and criminology courses. Bryan holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology, a master’s degree in criminal justice and is currently pursuing a PhD in leadership and management.