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 JAILCON22 Central Regional Conference on Thursday, October 13th, 2022, at the Events Center at the Embassy Suites Plainfield in Indianapolis, IN. NIJO Executive Director, Tate McCotter, presented awards to the recipients of the JAILCON22 Central Region Corrections Professionals Awards. McCotter also recognized agencies and individuals who had earned NIJO National Accreditation and Professional Certification.
NIJO wishes to extend our congratulations to the following award recipients.
CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
Training Officer, Johnson County Sheriff's Office (KS)
Assigned to the Property Room in the Detention Center, Jessica has a firm understanding of the necessity of accurately inventorying inmate property, both upon their initial booking and during their stay. In the short time Jessica has been with the Sheriff’s Office, she has demonstrated her ability to look at issues, not as problems to hinder progress, but as challenges for growth and opportunities to enhance efficiencies. Jessica has made a personal goal of inspecting any excess property storage bins, as well as the special Covid quarantine bins, to ensure the property has been properly inventoried and recorded. Although this is a time-consuming task, by resolving these discrepancies in a timely manner, she is saving staff countless man-hours, which would have to be expended if the discrepancies were not discovered until the inmate was being released from custody. Not only has Jessica saved the Sheriff’s Office staff significant man-hours, she has also taken proactive steps to minimize costs to the Sheriff’s Office from having to purchase or replace lost property. Jessica has also accepted the responsibilities of a Training Officer and takes great pride in training new staff. She continues to demonstrate her goal of making everyone successful, playing a vital role in the success of others and providing the citizens of Johnson County with the highest level of professionalism and service. Jessica is a positive influence amongst her peers and is highly respected for her positive attitude, leadership abilities and willingness to lead by example.
HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR
Clay County Sheriff's Office, MO
In 2021 Clay County Detention suffered from an extreme lack of trust amongst the operational staff and the medical department. There had been issues building over some time and the distrust continued to build until it hit a breaking point on 05/03/2021. On that date, an inmate died in custody. The level of cooperation between medical and operations became non-existent. This was not a tenable situation and required immediate attention. Not long after, ACH on boarded Miss Christy Dow as the new Medical Manager. Christy attacked the situation with great gusto and care. She understood why there was an issue and was not daunted by the task. She started with making sure her staff was aware of their duties and responsibilities, then making sure they followed them. Since taking over the level of trust and cooperation between medical has been greatly improved. Not only are the medical persons training, but, Christy has been having operations staff train with medical persons as well. More importantly, there became a line of communication between medical and operations that had been lacking prior to Christy’s arrival. It is not hyperbole to say that having Christy as the Clay County Medical Manager has been one of the best moves made in all of 2021.
DETENTION OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Parke County Sheriff's Office, IN
Brenda is well liked by jail staff and administration. She is willing to work extra and come in to work on her day off when needed day or night even if she is out doing what her and her husband love which is camping. Brenda is professional and takes her job seriously. She is fair and consistent with all inmates and they respect her for that. We are a small rural jail and the pay is very low which makes retaining staff even more difficult. Brenda is dedicated to her career and our department is very appreciative of her. Brenda has worked for us twice and missed the type of career and ever-changing pace and style once she left. She can effectively communicate with co-workers and inmates. She has also proven that she isn’t afraid to jump in and break up physical altercations or to rescue an inmate who is being severely beaten by multiple inmates. Brenda can be relied upon for her leadership skills and devotion to this profession.
DETENTION SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR
Joshua WebsterStory County Sheriff's Office, IA Joshua Webster has always been a positive role model to many jail officers, especially newer ones. From his nominee, “As one of the senior officers on my shift, I look back at Webster being the role model, setting the standard, and giving me the tools I needed to succeed.” Webster is an excellent leader in that there have been times where staff feel he has really had their back in decisions they made that have gone "up the chain", while still being able to recall times where he was able to effectively redirect or council staff on decisions they could have made differently. Webster, although being the most senior detention supervisor below the Assistant Jail Admin or Jail Admin level, makes it a point at even this point in his career to socialize and care for his officers. If you have any question as to why Webster deserves this award, consider this: He has his own private office he could lock himself in if he wanted, but instead can be found having dinner with his officers in inmate housing areas every night of the week. From his nominee, “At the end of the day, I strongly feel that it is the small things like this that truly showcase a person's character. I have no doubt in my mind that Webster is an excellent leader with outstanding character.”
DETENTION ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR
Steve LawrencePorter County Sheriff's Office, IN After serving in the US Navy, Steve began working at the Porter County Sheriff’s Office jail in 1988 and later serving in the patrol division. He has served as a Corporal, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Major, Detective Commander and Chief Deputy. In 2015, Sheriff David Reynolds selected Steve to be his Jail Commander. As a Jail Administrator Steve has always relied on his “team” to move the organization forward. Steve is defined as a “we” and not an “I” person. During the initial phase of the “Covid 19 Pandemic,” Steve and his team developed and released to Indiana County Jails the first COVID-19 screening tool to identify inmates that may have had exposure to the disease. Meanwhile, Steve purchased lunches for his crew to staff during difficult overtime shifts to lift the morale of jail staff. He has been a strong supporter of training and has continually authorized training to increase skills, knowledge, and professionalism. Of note, he developed a relationship with the Indiana Department of Health to decrease the amount of time inmates with mental illness were sitting in their jail. While being the administrator, he remains “hands-on.” His style of leadership includes working with county officials to secure necessary resources for staff to fulfill their responsibilities and get the job done. He has dealt personally with inmate issues, medical concerns and matters with the court. Steve worked closely with his Sheriff to help state Officials create and shape policies in aiding bail reform, racial equity and other pilot programs. He is well respected among the jails in the state of Indiana and is a “go to” man for answers and perhaps even more importantly an example of how to do things right.
DETENTION FACILITY INNOVATION AWARD
Boone County Sheriff's Office, MOLike many other facilities the COVID pandemic forced Boone County jail to alter course in many ways. For many years, the Boone County Jail had limited video court capabilities with only one video unit serviceable for 7 criminal court divisions. In addition, the courthouse is 5 miles from the jail and with staffing at an all-time low, transporting detainees to and from was difficult. In order to meet the needs of the court and account for the importance of limiting the potential spread of illness, the Boone County Jail renovated internal areas of the facility and added video units to a total of 4. This allowed many more detainees to stay within the facility and still meet the needs of the judicial process. Doing this required constructing a wall, adding wifi, installation of sound proofing, video systems, and jail security cameras. The facility worked in conjunction with the presiding judge, court administrator, county and court I.T., and facility maintenance in order to provide court in a safe environment. When several obstacles occurred at once; staffing and pandemic, some outside the box thinking led to a solution that will provide long term benefits.
DETENTION FACILITY INNOVATION AWARD
Genesee County Sheriff's Office, MIIn September 2020, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, located in Flint, Michigan, lead by Sheriff Christopher Swanson, launched IGNITE. IGNITE consists of a series of educational programs and opportunities fueled by rewards or approbations and is designed to promote a positive change with the inmates of the Genesee County jail. The residual benefits seen by those involved in IGNITE addresses Generational Incarceration, Race Relations, and Community Trust just to name a few. IGNITE is based on meritocracy, and results in the restoration of hope and value in many of the participants. Many inmates began to realize they don’t have to return to the same negative environment they were in prior to their arrest. Since the launch, the Genesee County Jail has documented more than 200,000 teaching hours, a 96% reduction in violence in the jail and increased the morale of the staff.
DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE AWARD
Lt. Karla Pleiman goes above and beyond to ensure the safety and security of the facility and her staff. At the end of 2020 our jail opened up a new intake center built to help ensure the safety our staff and inmates. This facility has a separate ventilation system that can easily be shut down by pressing a button in case of a fentanyl exposure while patting down new inmates. Lt. Pleiman was instrumental in helping oversee this project until its completion. She also ensures that staff not only get the necessary training each year but additional training to stay up to date on the latest issues.
When Covid struck she implemented new policies and procedures from intake all the way down to how cleaning was to be done to help ensure that staff and inmates were safe and secure. She gave us training that not only helped keep the staff and inmates safe but it gave their families peace of mind knowing that we were doing everything possible to keep their loved one safe while incarcerated throughout this pandemic.
Lt. Pleiman also is an excellent example of teamwork. She has no problem coming out of her office and responding to a fight or other incidents in the jail. She has helped pat down inmates, shower and process them and even has helped put some in the restraint chair. She also answers RFA’s and talks to inmates or their families when they request to speak to her. Lt. Pleiman is also actively involved in MAT, Stepping Up Initiative, Mercy Mission House, New Choices (which is a shelter for Domestic Violence Victims), STAR House (Sheriff's Treatment and Recovery), etc. She is a huge asset as she believes in rehabilitation of inmates and helps them seek treatment.
Shelby County Sheriff's Office, OH
DISTINGUISHED VALOR AWARD
Officer Ivan Sample understands the importance of treating incarcerated individuals as human beings rather than just inmates. The neighborhood in which he was raised was plagued by gangs, drugs and violence. The young Ivan Sample began to become a product of his environment, getting into trouble and was heading down the wrong path. At a young age, he was introduced to the Catholic Church which faith he credits for his path change. He takes the time to personally get to know the persons that are under his supervision.
In a very short period of time in 2021, Officer Sample played a vital role in saving the lives of 5 people that were under the supervision of LMDC. One instance, there were 2 inmates that had overdosed on an unknown substance, Officer Sample and others came to their aid, providing multiple doses of Narcan, and administering CPR until both individuals were revived. A very short time later, that same day, an inmate in a Segregation Unit attempted to hang themselves. Officer Sample was the 2nd officer on the scene, and managed to lift the person up, remove the ligature, carry them out into the dayroom, and again begin CPR until more advance medical personnel arrived. Officer Sample, within a week of those instances, saved 2 more individuals who were overdosing from unknown substances, by dosing them with Narcan and also performing CPR.
When asked about the incidents Sample said, "I was just doing my job. I give credit to those other officers that helped me. Without a team we wouldn't have been able to accomplish what we needed to accomplish.”
About Officer Sample, his Captain said, “I take pride in knowing that he is one of my men. He conducts himself professionally daily and has a level of integrity that cannot be matched by many.”
Louisville Metro Corrections, KY
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S AWARDThe NIJO Executive Director's Award recognizes extraordinary service to the detention and corrections field by an individual based on leadership, knowledge and contributions to the corrections profession.
Bill WilsonJail Services Director, Indiana Sheriffs' Association This individual has no idea this is being awarded, so this will be fun for me to announce and a privilege as well. Bill Wilson has over 3 decades of experience working in corrections, starting as a correctional officer and working his way up to the be jail administrator for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Bloomington, Indiana – a position which he held for 16 years. Having worked in corrections at all levels, he has a truly unique perspective on corrections. Among other things, he now works as the Jail Services Coordinator for the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association, where he helps jails improve their operation, management, efficiency, and professionalism, aid them in complying with state and federal law, assist them in managing risk, and eliminate issues that may lead to litigation. He has provided professional evaluation, consulting, and training services to elected officials, jail management personnel, and correctional officers on a wide variety of topics including:
- the constitutional operation and staffing of jail facilities;
- inmate classification and disciplinary procedures;
- suicide detection and prevention;
- jail security;
- admissions and releases;
- managing inmate populations in overcrowding situations;
- handling of staff issues, including data driven staffing analysis;
- drafting and/or review written policies and procedures;
- assisting with grant applications;
- as an expert witness;
- for the past 23 years served as an instructor for the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Jailers School;
- Member of the Indiana Council on Community Mental Health Centers Criminal Justice Committee;
- Adjunct Instructor, Criminal Justice Department at Ivy Tech University
NIJO PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATIONThe 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:
Barbara Gould, Gould Consulting LLC
Kevin Hay, Wayne County, IN
Damon Reynolds, Boone County, MO
National Certified Corrections Officer (NCCO) Certification was awarded to the following individuals:
Brandi Vance, Livingston County, IL
Michael Wittrock, Story County, IA