Southside Regional Jail Officer Wayne Elliott, the facility’s Officer of the Quarter, has worked a lot of different types of jobs, but it’s all prepared him for what he’s doing at the jail.
Elliott, 40, grew up in Greensville County and graduated from Brunswick Academy in 1993. The son of two Corrections Department employees, Elliott grew up with a father who worked in maintenance and always did the jobs himself.
“He never called anybody,” Elliott said. “When something needed to be worked on, he did it himself, and growing up around that, I got used to working with my hands.”
However, as he grew up, Elliott wasn’t thinking about making a living this way.
“To be honest when I went through school I wanted to be a number cruncher,” Elliott recalled. “I went through Southside (Virginia Community College) and got a degree in Business Management.”
His mother convinced Elliott that perhaps going for a state job would be a good idea, and when Elliott crunched those numbers and saw the benefits and the retirement package available, he began to investigate, and got a job while he was still pursuing his degree working maintennance part-time for the Southampton Correctional facility.
In 2003, he put in for a job at a warehouse at the facility, but all non-security positions were frozen, so he applied to be an officer and was hired at the Greensville Correctional facility in Jarratt.
“I figured if I got in it would open doors for applying for other jobs,” Elliott said. “But enjoyed doing it.”
At Greensville, Elliott was trained to do a variety of jobs, which he found to be a very good thing.
“You always hear people talk about having jobs that are monotonous,” Elliott said. “You don’t have a chance for monotony in corrections because you’re dealing with different scenarios every day.”
After four years at the facility, Elliott was moved into transportation, a job he said opened his eyes to an array of experiences since it involved moving inmates for court appearances and medical appointments.
“You see a lot,” Elliott said. “I used to tell people in those eight years I felt like I went through medical school because of everything I saw and learned taking inmates to medical appointments.”
Elliott added he also got to see the entire state shuttling inmates to court appearances, and he enjoyed doing transports though it would occasionally lead to long days.
For example, he mentioned taking one inmate to the Medical College of Virginia for dialysis when something went wrong with the procedure and doctors had to respond to severe bleeding. Elliott said he worked an entire 24-hour cycle on that one shift due to the delays.
“I remember coming back to the prison after that and my shift was just getting to work for the next day,” Elliott said. “I had been on since the previous day.”
Elliott began to look around for other opporunities and found one with Southside Regional Jail in 2015, learning that the position for which he was applying would involve security work and maintenance work.
Another thing that appealed to him was the work schedule. Having done shift work for so long, the position at SSRJ offered a M-F schedule.
“I’ve enjoyed going all over the place, but I want my time at home too,” Elliott said. “And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve wanted to look for something a little more predictable as far as the hours go.”
The dual role he plays at the jail — being able to help with security and maintenance both — appeals greatly to Elliott, and he said he would probably serve out the rest of his career at the facility.
Earlier this month, Elliott was chosen as Officer of the Quarter and happened to be right outside the door when the supervisor’s meeting that resulted in him being chosen ended.
“My supervisor (Sgt. Jerry Rose) walked out of the room and looked at me and said ‘congratulations,’” Elliott said. “So I found out about it in about two minutes after it happened.”
Elliott said he was very honored by the choice but also said there are many others working at the jail who could have been picked.
“We have a lot of people here doing really good work,” Elliott said. “I feel like I’m just doing my job, but it’s also nice to be recognized for doing my job.”