MISSOULA - From first time DUI offenders to accused killers, the Missoula County Jail oversees them all in a job that’s not for everybody.
“You’re definitely dealing with tempters," said Deputy Rick Renfro. "You’re called a lot of names and cussed at”
Rick pursued a career in law enforcement after 25 years in the construction industry. He keeps the jail safe and secure for both his fellow officers and inmates.
“We have a lot of mental health people here and they shouldn’t be here, a lot of them," he said. "So just being able to try and help them understand the process, talk to them, just make them feel human.”
His faith and his family are what keep him going. His children and his wife are his life and for Rick, there’s nothing better than spending a day on the water, in the mountains or in the air with his family. It’s something solid to rely on when faced with the stress of keeping hundreds of people safe and secure. Recently, he was put to the test.
“I saw an inmate who looked odd. I wasn’t even sure there was anything wrong at first. I was outside the pod, went in and he was hanging by his pants so I ran up there, lifted him up and had an inmate untie the pants. I laid him down and started doing CPR compressions right away. He came back to life, he was not breathing at all but then his oxygen came up, we went to the hospital and he was doing fine.”
Rick’s peers at the Detention and correction officer academy in Helena voted him the most inspirational. He knows he’s the one seeing people at their worst—seeing a side of Missoula most of us don’t. And no matter why they’re behind bars, he knows they deserve his best.
“You’re looking at the underbelly of society, you’re seeing some of the worst people at their worst, and some good people at their worst and some bad people at their worst. But when the drugs and alcohol wear off, they’re still people."
The jail manager tells me they give out several life-saving awards every year to detention officers who save the lives of inmate in peril.