JAILCON21 Western Region Corrections Professionals Awards

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 Western Regional Conference on Thursday, July 1, 2021, at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Jail Commander Don Bischoff of Mohave County Sheriff’s Office presented the ASA Jail Commander’s Awards on behalf of the Arizona Sheriffs’ Association and NIJO Executive Director, Tate McCotter, presented awards to the recipients of the JAILCON21 Western 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.


Detention Facility Innovation Award
Apache County Sheriff’s Office, AZ

Detention Facility of the Year Award - Apache County Sheriff's Office

The Apache County Sheriff’s Office Training Unit developed and implemented an in-house basic detention officers academy which did not exist before. “We have traditionally sent our detention officers to outside agencies for training and then had to train them to our jail upon their return. What makes this academy program stand out is that the field training portion of the cadets training was incorporated into the academy so at the end of ten weeks the graduating Detention Officer was ready to go to his/her shift and immediately be able to work independently as a detention officer.  The academy allowed ACSO to shorten the time an officer spent in training as well as identifying persons who were not suited for the profession very early in the process saving time and money to the county. The members of the training unit as well as all the supervisors up to and including the Chief Deputy are involved in teaching during the academy which has made for a much tighter bond with the staff and the supervisors.

Lots of hard work, long hours and a lot of ‘out of the box’ thinking went into creating and implementing the program. In 2020, the training staff was able to run nine  academies in addition to all of the regular in-service trainings that are required every year.  While they went through the year the training staff also identified issues that we had in the policy manual and were able to do a complete re-write of our policies and procedures.”

Congratulations to Commander Michael Cirivello and staff for receiving this prestigious award!

NIJO 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.


Nicole Beckett
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, CO

“Nicole does not wait for legislation but understands where theNicole Beckett_Douglas County Sheriff's Office, CO criminal justice trends are, and devises plans on how to meet these constantly changing needs of our inmates and our communities and has done so in the last year.  She demonstrated this skill as she has continued to pursue implementing a Medication Assisted Treatment program for the Douglas County Jail within this past year.  She toured other programs to find the right “fit” for Douglas County, she worked with a consultant on the process, she sought the buy in from our medical vendor, and she ultimately was tasked with writing the contract to set this program in motion.

Nicole has grown the Reintegration program immensely since she has assumed this position.  Examples of this include the large increase (over 200%) in grant funds that she has sought and received and the increase in staffing.  She has expanded her network to involve many community partners as well as Criminal Justice Administrators in the entire state and beyond.  This recipient was one of the first employees in the Office to recognize the need to track inmates waiting competency. She not only developed a tracking mechanism to ensure that they would not languish in jail waiting to go the Colorado Mental Health Institute, but she looked to creative solutions such as getting the County Attorney involved in addressing the needs of the inmate.

Ms. Beckett also possesses immense administrative skills.  She produces a large portion of the grant documents (over $500,000 so far), she tracks expenditures, and she is the subject matter expert on the grants under her supervision.  She has attended Board of County Commissioner meetings when her grants and contracts have been on the agenda so she can provide answers to any questions our commissioners have.  She captures the work that the programs have produced in documents used for our annual report.  She also uses this report to inform our partners of the program successes.”


Ronica Hickey
Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, AZ

Dedication to Excellence_Ronica Hickey_Mohave County Sheriff's Office AZ

“Ronica Hickey has the ability to interact with new inta

ke inmates to complete a very important classification assessment but also has the ability to interview existing inmates to further collect information and intelligence from within our operation from the inmate perspective. Her approachable personality has been a valuable asset to the classification system and has given h

er commander a great deal of comfort in knowing that we are doing our best to make our classification system work given the framework we have to work within.

Several years ago, Ronica was also tasked with inmate medical claims coding and processing with literally no training at all and having had no prior experience to aid in her taking on that monumental task. Without a complaint or concern, she took on the project and owned it in a very short period of time. Since that time, many of those “coding” duties have been outsourced but she is the point person and now has even taken on more medical claims related activities involving AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid system.

Ronica has an amazing work ethic and stands ready to take on any task or special assignment directed toward her. Even during difficult times in her personal life, she was always ready to accept the next challenge. It brings great comfort to me as an administrator in knowing that when an employee is given a task, I have full faith and confidence in knowing the task will not only be completed, but in a timely and professionally manner.”


Corporal Michelle Meins
Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, KS

As stated in her nomination, Corporal Meins goes over and beyond her duties to keep things going.  She has the task of going through all the inmate files and making sure everything is in order and fixing all the mistakes that other people have made during the booking process before the files go up to the records department — and, believe me, that is not an easy task ! She is always willing to work overtime when needed whether it is coming in early or staying over late, which happens often. She is always willing to help others when they struggle with things at work and even outside of work.


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. 

Rachel Love
Struck Love Bojanowski & Acedo PLC

Attorney Rachel Love (Struck Love Bojanowski & Acedo PLC) Award Recipient of NIJO Executive Director AwardRachel focuses her practice on defense of America’s corrections departments, jail systems, and law enforcement agencies and their officers in civil rights litigation, including defense of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Bivens and tort actions, class actions, and complex multi-party litigation matters filed in jurisdictions across the United States. Rachel is respected for specialized defense of excessive force, inmate assault/homicide, sexual assault, inmate suicide, inmate disturbance response, STG/gang management, maximum custody management, classification, conditions of confinement, deliberate indifference to medical needs, retaliation, religious rights, First Amendment challenges, publications, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death claims filed by inmates and inmate advocacy groups.




The National Institute for Jail Operations developed the Professional Certification Program in response to the need to provide a respected national certification for individuals looking for a process that involved legal-based curriculum by an organization which supports and defends their agencies’ worthy goals and objectives.   NIJO Professional Certification is a professional designation – earned not issued – for jail and detention officers, supervisors, administrators and sheriffs who have demonstrated to possess the requisite understanding, knowledge, skills, experience and abilities to function to a specific level.  Achieving NIJO Certification is a significant accomplishment and reflects intense training, effort, experience and comprehension proving that an individual confidently knows and can follow clearly established laws and procedures in fulfilling his or her duties within a correctional facility.


National Certified Corrections Executive (NCCE) Certification was awarded to the following individuals:


Commander Ralph Bennett
Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, UT

Lt. Michelle Greenlee
Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, MI

Ryan Hurd
Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, UT

Hollie Lucas
La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, AZ


JAILCON21 West National Certified Corrections Executive (NCCE) Recipients

National Certified Corrections Officer_Pima County Sheriff's Office_MattesNational Certified Corrections Officer (NCCO) Certification was awarded to the following individuals:

Barbara Mattes
Pima County Sheriff’s Office, AZ





NIJO Accreditation is an established process for correctional administrators to verify and be recognized nationally as compliant to what the law requires to run a constitutionally safe facility.  As the only such accreditation in the country, NIJO promulgates over 600 Legal-Based GuidelinesTM specific to each state, to ensure that detention and correctional facilities comply with current legal requirements applicable to each state, circuit court and federal rulings and statutes.  Achieving accreditation is not a walk in the park.  It requires legal-based policies and procedures, documentation and consistency on all levels.

NIJO is pleased to recognize two agencies that have achieved Accreditation or have repeated their accreditation cycle.  

Pima County Sheriff’s Office, AZ

Pima County Sheriff’s Office (AZ) was first recognized for achieving NIJO accreditation at JAILCON18.  Since then, to maintain that accreditation, they have shown considerable dedication and effort in keeping policies, procedures and actual practices up to date.  As many of you know, last year there were over 50 changes to the legal-based guidelines alone! When case law changes, the legal-based standards change. And when standards change, policies and procedures and training also need to be modified accordingly. Congratulations to  Sheriff Chris Nanos, Chief Jesus Lopez, and their entire Sheriff’s office and Detention staff for this award. 

Pima_County Sheriff's Office earns National Accreditation through NIJO


Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, AZ

Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (AZ) was the first county in the entire country to achieve reaccreditation Level I status – the highest that can be awarded by NIJO. Since their initial accreditation in 2012, Pinal County Detention Facility has worked diligently to keep its policies and ongoing operational practices current and compliant to the law and the Arizona Legal-Based Guidelines amidst intense budget cutbacks, depleted staff, and numerous other challenges.  Their facility was just re-accredited to a Level One Reaccreditation in January 2021.  Congratulations Sheriff Lamb, Chief Matt Hendricks and the entire Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and Detention staff!

Sheriff Mark Lamb and Pinal County Sheriff's Office earn NIJO National Accreditation




Also recognized at the conference were the following Arizona Sheriffs’ Association Awards:


Pedro Alvarez_Yuma CountyRookie of the Year 

Officer Pedro Alvarez
Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, AZ





Clayton Hawthorn_Mohave CountyDetention Officer of the Year

Officer Clayton Hawthorn
Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, AZ






Supervisor of the Year

Sergeant John Marquez
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, AZ






Lyndi Weaver_Mohave CountyCivilian Employee of the Year

Lyndi Weaver
Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, AZ







Mary Hynek Award / Healthcare Professional of the Year

Lisa Hirsch
Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, AZ



Don Bischoff_Mohave CountyCommander of the Year

Don Bischoff
Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, AZ






Congratulations to all of these outstanding and dedicated professionals and their agencies.  You are the unsung heroes of law enforcement.  We appreciate you and are dedicated to providing legal-based training and resources for the employees of jails and detention facilities across the country.


You may also be interested in: JAILCON21 Western Regional Conference Summary


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