Several individuals who have demonstrated dedication and excellence in the corrections profession throughout their careers were recognized during an Awards Luncheon held in conjunction with JAILCON21 Southern Regional Conference on Thursday, August 19, 2021, at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, Lousiana. NIJO Executive Director, Tate McCotter, presented awards to the recipients of the JAILCON21 Southern Region Corrections Professionals Awards. McCotter also recognized agencies and individuals for earning NIJO National Accreditation and Professional Certification.
NIJO wishes to extend our congratulations to the following award recipients.
OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Sergeant Barry Cooper Jr. Washington Parish Sheriff's Office, LABarry Cooper Jr. has been on staff for slightly less than two years. During his time on staff, he has proved to be an exemplary and creative employee. Sergeant Cooper performs all jail investigations and has been instrumental in helping to build criminal cases against several inmates. He is an excellent report writer and is a certified instructor in several disciplines including Taser, OC spray, pepper ball and defensive tactics. He now functions as the primary trainer for our jail personnel. Sergeant Cooper has a calm demeanor, works closely with his supervisors and is currently being considered as the future Chief of Corrections when I retire in about two years. I see a very bright future for him in corrections as he continues to develop as a leader. He has quickly gained the confidence of our Sheriff and his administrative staff. Barry is a man of integrity and highly deserving of this recognition." -- Chief Deputy Mike Haley, Washington Parish Sheriff's Office (LA)
HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR
Charlotte Turner Morgan County Sheriff's Office, AL"Nurse Charlotte Turner has been the leader of the contracted medical unit in the Morgan County Jail since 2013. Though we have changed medical providers in that time, we made it clear that we wanted Charlotte to stay on with the new company. Her contributions to our facility have been immeasurable, as well as her ability and drive to maintain a comprehensive medical unit. Nurse Charlotte cares as much about our facility as anyone and works tirelessly to ensure inmates are provided the best healthcare they can receive. In early 2020, when the COVID pandemic was in the infant stages, Nurse Charlotte wisely instituted procedures in our facility to proactively reduce the chances of COVID making it inside. She worked closely and tirelessly with jail and Sheriff’s Office leadership to institute new protocols for daily operations that would protect our inmates. She fervently stayed on top of the latest research and practices, more times than not, suggesting protocols that would later come to light as CDC guidelines. With Nurse Charlotte’s efforts and leadership, our facility made it through the peak of the pandemic with ZERO inmate cases of COVID-19. Aside from being an outstanding advocate for the health and well-being of our inmate population, Charlotte has become a member of our MCSO family. She has never hesitated to put the best interest of others aside to make sure that inmates received the care needed, to maintain the standard of care expected, and promote positivity among staff and fellow nurses. Charlotte is often the defacto advise giver for much of our jail staff when ailments arise. I myself have even found myself suffering from a sudden on-set virus and the first person I called was Charlotte. We are proud to tell everyone about our medical department and the innovations that have gone from thought to reality because of Nurse Charlotte. There is no one more deserving of recognition for her efforts in the medical field of Corrections." -- Aaron Dawson, Warden, Morgan County Sheriff's Office (AL)
SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR
Yvonne Oliver Montgomery Municipal Jail, AL
Corporal Yvonne Miller has shown exemplary leadership and has contributed to the improvement of the jail environment positively for enhanced safety, security, and custody to benefit overall jail operations, officers, staff, inmates, and the general public. She has the ability to work and assist in every aspect of daily operations in the jail and continues to exhibit her professional and leadership skills, demonstrate good judgment, and proficiently handle challenges as they arise. Corporal Oliver battles in the trenches with officers that she supervises. She holds her subordinates accountable by enforcing the rules and regulations of the department. Corporal Oliver maintains professionalism and she displays a positive attitude at all times." -- Lt. Yvonne Rogers, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office (AL)
DETENTION ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR
Chief Matt Cooper Marshall County Sheriff's Office, AL"In 2019, Chief Matt Cooper became a member of my command staff to run a jail that was left by the former administration in chaos. The inmates were practically running the jail. I needed someone to come in and implement new procedures and policy and take command of the jail. And that person was Matt Cooper. Matt has used his prior experience in jail management to take charge of a jail that was is despair and turn it around. He has worked at all levels in corrections and has developed leadership skills to gain compliance from inmates. Also, he is well respected by those he supervises. When my administration began, the jail had sixteen hours a day healthcare through the week, and twelve hours on the weekends. Matt help develop a plan to implement 24 hour, 7 days a week healthcare for this jail. This help cut down on medical costs and unnecessary emergency room visits. By implementing a new healthcare policy, this put the jail and the sheriff's in excellent shape to handle the unknown, COVID-19. The healthcare staff was instrumental in adopting and adhere to CDC guidelines for inmates and employees. Chief Cooper developed new booking policies, develop procedures to minimize face to face contact in the jail, work with other agencies on inmate admissions, developing a cleaning schedule of the jail, and help to find ways to use Cares Act money to purchase a body scanner with thermal heat detection (fevers). Because of this, we have only had one positive case in the jail inmate population to date." -- Sheriff Phil Sims, Marshall County (AL)
Cathy Evans Morgan County Sheriff's Office, AL"On May 14, 2021 Morgan County Corrections Officer Catherine Ann Evans was serving dinner to the inmates in her assigned housing unit. While serving meals to inmates in the Bravo-3 housing unit, she was approached by an inmate inquiring about a privilege given to the inmates that they had not receive. Officer Evans explained to the inmate that the privilege was not taken away but would not be given immediately. The inmate became irate towards Officer Evans, she instructed him to back away, and the inmate struck her unexpectedly to the right side of her face rendering her nearly unconscious. Officer Evans had the fortitude to fight through the pain and request assistance over the jail radio systems. Once help arrived, Officer Evans was taken to medical to be evaluated by nursing staff. The medical staff suggested that Officer Evans be sent to the Emergency room, at which time she began to argue that she wouldn’t let this situation keep her from her job. Only after being ordered by her Shift Sergeant to go to the hospital did she agree. Upon being evaluated at the hospital, it was discovered that Officer Evans had suffered a concussion, severe facial lacerations, contusions, broken and misaligned teeth, and deep bruising to her cheek, orbital, and jaw bones. Even with these injuries, Officer Evans argued with medical personnel that she wanted to return to work immediately. Against her desires, Officer Evans heeded medical advice and was out of work for nearly three weeks recovering. Upon her follow up appointment with her care providers, she demanded to be allowed to return to work, when asked by her Supervisors as to why, she stated “There is no way I’m going to let this change the way I do my job, I want to get back and show them that they can’t get to me.” Upon returning to work, Officer Evans did just that. Her first act upon returning was to make a walk about the whole facility and dispel the rumors that had spread through inmate.com that she would not be returning. A moment of true valor and resilience for a Corrections Officer who had experienced one of the worst situations you could face in our profession. Officer Evans is looked upon as a mother or grandmother figure to many of her co-workers. She stated many times throughout her recovery that she could not wait to return to her family. There is no better or more deserving person for this type of recognition than Catherine Ann (Cathy Ann) Evans." -- Aaron Dawson, Warden, Morgan County Sheriff's Office (AL)
DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE AWARD (aka Overworked and Underpaid Award)This year, NIJO was pleased to award two individuals the "Dedication to Excellence" Award for a detention officer, supervisor, or administrator who in the past year has gone above and beyond normal expectations by working extra hours, making extra effort to ensure the safety and security of staff members, inmates, and the general public.
Lisa Draper Livingston County Sheriff's Office, IL
"Sergeant Lisa Draper dedicates herself to making the working environment at the Livingston County Jail safe, secure and positive. Sergeant Draper has sacrificed many holidays, and family time to ensure the success of new commissary, phone system, tablets, and other programs. All of these programs have been implemented without difficulty, and on most occasions, she continues to do her daily supervisor duties while getting involved in the extra work. She is instrumental with keeping our federal detainee housing program a success as well. Sergeant Draper continually gives up her own time to cover overtime shifts no one else wants to work. She is the prime example of how supervisors are supposed to be--a mentor and positive role model for their troops. She is extremely selfless and does not think twice about jumping in when and where needed. She goes the extra mile for every one of her officers and ensures their training and needs are addressed in a timely manner. Sergeant Draper has given up many of her days off to make the Livingston County Jail a better place to work." -- Kevin McKinsey, Training Officer, Livingston County Sheriff's Office (IL)
Jason Hutson Parke County Sheriff's Office, IN"Our county does not pay overtime, so all employees earn comp time for extra hours worked. We are one of the lowest paid counties in terms of salaries for jail staff. Due to our history of low pay and the current climate, we have been struggling to maintain a full staff of jail officers for years. We also have always struggled with being able to get off duty jail officers to volunteer to come in when short staffed due to their being no extra financial compensation. Jason Hutson has always set the bar for dropping everything and answering the call when we are short staffed or a medical emergency arises in the jail and we need extra officers to help transport, cover a shift, sit in the hospital, etc. Jason always answers his phone, has never complained or tried to make excuses and is always his normal, jovial self. His temperament and sense of humor is always uplifting to staff and even inmates alike and he works great with all staff members. Jason is a type 2 diabetic and one of his three children are also severely diabetic, but still always answers his phone and always is the first to volunteer to come in all while finding a caregiver for his daughter. This is all due to his desire and understanding the importance of managing and maintaining safety and security of a jail facility while only receiving an endless supply of comp hours that can never realistically be used. Jason also provides excellent and personable service to those who enter the jail lobby when he is running our central command area due to his long years of experience and expertise. His reliability exceeds that of any other employee in our department." -- Sheriff Justin Cole, Parke County Sheriff's Office (IN)
NIJO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S AWARD (aka Gary W. DeLand Award)
This award is rightly named after NIJO Board Member, Gary DeLand, who knows more about corrections hands down than any person on this planet! The award recognizes extraordinary service to the detention and corrections field by an individual based on leadership, knowledge and contributions to the corrections profession.