TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW) -- Shawnee County Corrections Officer Ron Lawson has kept a watchful eye on some of the city’s most troubled youth.
“I don’t know that anybody when they’re a child when they’re asked ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ says a corrections officers. You know it’s just not one of those things. And so it’s kind of…the job kind of finds you. And that’s how I kind of just fell into it,” Lawson said.
Lawson has walked the halls of the County’s Juvenile Detention Center for the last 16 years of his 31 year career.
“We’ve seen them 10 years old all the way…you know what we call graduate to the jail. Some kids only stay a day. Other ones you know stay several months. It just kind of depends on their…what they’re here for, what their crime is,” he explained.
Lawson said the job isn’t always easy.
“There are those kids that I’ve seen that come here that it is the best place they’ve been in, in their life. And that’s kind of tough you know, to de deal with kids like that,” he said.
However, once he walks through the front doors, Lawson said the hard part is over.
“You know most these people that work here, work here because you know they do care about the kids that they deal with on a daily basis,” he said.
Lawson spends most of his days keeping a close eye on the kids. He travels with them to funerals, court, and even medical appointments. He never lets them out of his sight.
“If they have to be operated on we have to be in the operating room watching it happen,” he explained.
He is there when they attend school or take a trip to their library.
“Anytime in the room that’s about all they can do is read. So a lot of kids read, which is a good thing,” he said.
He is also there when the kids have some down time for fun activities.
“On the weekends I think they spend a little bit more time in here, but they seem to enjoy it…so it gets loud in here though,” he said talking about the center’s gym.
Lawson spends so much time with some of the kids that he gets to know a different side of them.
“We laugh and we joke with them and we you know we tease them, and they’ll tease us back. But that’s building that rapport,” he said.
While he knows he won’t be able to change the life of every kid, his attitude remains positive.
“You’re taking care of people’s lives, and if you do a good job at it you know you feel like you accomplished something,” Lawson added.