SACRAMENTO - Prison officials ordered an end to using word puzzles as a substitute for guard training Friday after an assemblyman questioned how finding hidden words such as "elf,""snow" and "gingerbread" prepared officers to handle dangerous inmates.
Guards at some prisons were told they could get nearly a quarter of their annual training by completing word search and crossword puzzles on the job.
Correctional officers are supposed to receive 52 hours of training each year in such things as firearms, use of force, and transporting inmates. Forty hours are hands-on, but prison spokesmen said a union contract that took effect last July required the remaining 12 hours be spent studying bulletins with policy changes, administrative directives — and puzzles.
One exercise required guards to find the names of professional football teams hidden among a jumble of letters: "Complete the word find puzzle below and submit it ... to receive one hour ... credit. Good luck and have fun!"