When 21-year-old Correctional Officer Glen Walls began his career, “The Exorcist” scared moviegoers and a gallon of gas cost 40 cents. It was 1973. On Sept. 23, 2018, Officer Walls celebrated 45 years of service with the department.
He started at San Quentin State Prison but quickly requested a transfer to be closer to his family.
“I remember working a tower where we would watch ships come into the Bay just in front of the hospital. I saw lots of history while there and remember how the walls, cells and tiers reminded me of a castle,” Officer Walls said.
Walls didn’t know anyone in San Francisco so he was grateful when a family allowed him to stay with them.
After a few weeks, the Captain told he would be transferred to the California Rehabilitation Center (or CRC) in Norco. In 1975, he began his new assignment.
Officer Walls sees changes over the years
It was a culture shift to go from San Quentin to CRC. For starters, correctional staff did not wear uniforms at the institution.
“Their dress code was anything they wanted to wear as long as it was not blue,” he recalled.
Equipment for correctional staff were keys, a key holder, whistle and a flash light. Back then, the confined population was 90 percent Civil Addicts (people committed because of drug addictions) and 10 percent felon inmates. CRC incarcerated men and women.
“I’ve watched many changes over the years at CRC. I’ve been assigned to various positions, in both the men and women units, as well as Patton State Hospital,” he said.
CRC provides perimeter and hospital security coverage along with patient transportation for the forensic psychiatric hospital at Patton, run by the Department of State Hospitals.
While in high school, Walls was an athletic star. He didn’t want attention so didn’t go for promotions.
“I never wanted to be in the limelight again,” he said.
Instead, he chose to support those around him who wanted to promote. During his career he worked with supervisors who cared about staff so the staff gave their best to get the job done.
Respect is important
Officer Walls said he never had any problems with the incarcerated population because he cares about his work area and those under his charge.
“I always listen to staff and (incarcerated) equally,” he said. “I feel people skills cannot be taught, they are natural.”
According to Walls, respect is the key.
“I give (incarcerated people) respect and demand they respect each other in my presence,” he said. “I believe they should be better people when leaving prison.”
Work-life balance is something he strives to achieve. Hobbies over the years have included fixing cars, creating music, writing songs, body building and designing men’s clothing. These hobbies have helped ease job-related stress.
“I have worked First Watch most of my career and plan to continue until the end because it helps me stay grounded and creative,” Officer Walls said.
He said his career has allowed him to give back to his grandparents,, who raised him. He’s able to provide for his family, as well as help others.
“The most beautiful and motivating thing is to hear my peers say, ‘He’s a living legend,'” Officer Walls said.
By Lt. Sarah Watson