Behind Bars, Perimeter Patrol is something that is pretty self-explanatory: Prisons have perimeter roads (normally) and various forms of patrol take place twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Some of these are walking patrols inside the fence and outside the fence. These poor, unfortunate officers are chosen at the beginning of the shift and depending on a number of environmental issues, can be one of the best or worse assignments an officer can pull.
For example, as Fate would have it, whenever an officer arrives at what is known as the shift meeting or turn-out where he/she receives his/her assignment for the day without a raincoat and rain-boots, he/she will inevitably draw the perimeter patrol assignment IF and only IF it is raining, sleeting, snowing or hailing. If an officer arrives at the shift meeting prepared for rain, but without a jacket or other arctic wear in the winter, fall or spring, he/she will ONLY draw the perimeter patrol assignment IF a Blue Norther is expected half-way through or earlier during the shift. (NOTE: Temperature drops must be no less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the shift). If the officer shows up without a bottle of insect repellent during a mosquito outbreak, he/she will not only be assigned to the Perimeter Patrol, but will also be required to stand duty on the recreation yard whenever he/she is not patrolling the perimeter.
There is a special kind of Perimeter Patrol found at some of the Texas Prisons that take place after dark. These are special in that the officer is required to drive one of the most dilapidated trucks, cars or vans in the state for a full eight hour shift, circling the prison unit at idle speed. This not only requires jackets when it is cold, water when it is hot, rain-gear when it is raining and insect repellant at any given time, it also requires a sleep-deprived officer to drive an extremely monotonous course in the dead of night during all kinds of weather in a vehicle that sometimes has no actual seat, no free-world (regular) radio, no heater, no a/c, no working windshield wipers and sometimes has doors held closed with lengths of twine. The windshield on these vehicles always have a mysteriously meandering, annoying crack precisely bisecting the driver’s field of vision no matter his/her height. This special Perimeter Patrol is normally assigned to the older, sleepier officers or, if none are available, to the younger, hyperest officers in order to achieve the best security possible.
One more type of Perimeter Patrol that I always found particularly interesting, was the “FOG PATROL”. The prison units, which have Field Officers (these are work party supervisors that ride horses… yes, horses) located in fog prone areas (we are talking can’t see the end of your hood fog like that found near the Grand Banks off the coast of Nova Scotia, where there probably no prisons, and in Texas on particularly nasty spring and fall mornings/evenings/nights) will send out these Field Officers in the early morning hours on their horses and have them sit at strategic points along the perimeter road. Again, this must be extremely boring duty, but apparently it is all worth the prestige of riding one of the states ornery beasts in the boiling Texas sun while a group of offenders hack haphazardly at weeds in a ditch or a planted field.
These are the most prevalent sorts of perimeter patrols I have personally witnessed, however there may be more heinous forms lurking out there, waiting for unsuspecting Correctional Officers.