The National Institute for Jail Operations (NIJO) is pleased to share that several individuals have recently been recognized for their commitment and unwavering dedication to the corrections profession. NIJO is proud to recognize these remarkable individuals for their outstanding contributions and achievements. NIJO Executive Director, Tate McCotter, presented the Central Region Corrections Professionals Awards at an Awards Luncheon held in conjunction with JAILCON23 Central Regional Conference, on Thursday, October 26, in French Lick, Indiana. In addition to these awards, McCotter also recognized agencies and individuals who have earned NIJO National Accreditation and Professional Certification.
NIJO wishes to extend our congratulations to the following award recipients.
2023 CENTRAL REGION CORRECTIONS PROFESSIONALS AWARDS
CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR AWARD
Brittany Davis, Johnson County Sheriff's Office, KS
Brittany Davis has been a supervisor for just over two years and willingly accepts and implements feedback from her superiors and takes steps to improve her leadership skills. In 2022, and through this year, Brittany took the initiative to begin developing different schedules to allow for cross training of the Civilian Specialist staff throughout both facilities. This was done to enhance staff knowledge and skill set, as well as provide them additional opportunities and advancement. She understands staff morale increases when they know they are appreciated and are given the opportunity to advance. Brittany utilizes resources to develop options to fill open positions within both facilities, without overworking the current staff. As a result of the cross training, a larger pool of staff was trained to work in multiple locations, allowing supervisors to move staff around as needed. By reassigning Civilian Specialist from their normal assignment on short notice, Brittany was able to ensure the facilities could meet the goals, and our commitment to the public by operating a safer and secure facility. Not only does Brittany reassign staff as needed, she regularly demonstrated to her subordinates that she is also a team player by taking on duties that are outside of her area of responsibility. During an extended period, three of the four Programs staff were off work due to COVID leave. Brittany would fill open positions by working them herself in order to help her staff, many times coming in after hours or her days off. Congratulations Brittany!
HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR AWARD
Heather Brashears, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc.(not pictured)
Heather Brashears, RN, CCHP, is the Director of Medical Operations - Southwest Division at Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. At an early age, Heather saw her mother providing care to incarcerated population for over ten years during her forty-plus-year career as a nurse. With the addition of other family members serving in law enforcement, Heather’s interest peaked in the area of public service. The ability to provide quality health care for an underserved population became her passion. In order to become better equipped personally as well as professionally, Heather took the initiative to obtain her CCHP certification. Her integrity and professionalism has helped her set the bar for jail medical programs. Heather leads by example, possesses a strong work ethic, is willing to take initiative, and has strong leadership attributes. Heather’s passion for an underserved population is a true testament of how caring she is. On a daily basis she helps educate, communicate, and provide hope to the very population with which she lives. Heather further collaborates with community professionals to establish care in an effort to ensure all populations have resources available to them when they are in need. Heather’s dedication to the field can be seen in her own community. As is the case for many, the current drug epidemic impacted her community, close friends, and family. Heather saw this as an opportunity to continue to serve and have an impact right where she lives. Congratulations Heather!
DETENTION OFFICER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Shelby Starling, Story County Sheriff’s Office, IA
Shelby Starling is an exceptional employee at the Story County Sheriff's Office. She has worked at Story County as a detention officer for 4 years, and is well liked and respected by all of her co-workers. Officer Starling always comes into work with a great attitude and maintains it throughout the shift, no matter what happens. She is always willing to help out her co-workers and doesn't hesitate to jump right in on incidents within the jail. Shelby always maintains a high level of professionalism and does a great job going out in the community and speaking about the job and going to job fairs to recruit people. Shelby always helps out with more than her fair share of the overtime, all of this while taking college courses to complete her bachelors degree. A co-worker said this of her--“Shelby brings positive energy to the jail and is a pleasure to work with. She is a very hard worker and has a great work ethic. I feel that Shelby is very deserving of this award and helps make our jail a better place.” Congratulations Officer Starling!
DETENTION SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Mary Miller, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, IN
As you may know, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a major threat to the safety and security of detention facilities across the country. However, Sergeant Miller rose to the occasion and implemented strict policies and procedures to ensure the safety of staff members, inmates, and the general public. Through her tireless efforts in enforcing cleaning protocols, isolation efforts, and record keeping, our facility was able to maintain a record of less than 20 positive cases in a two-year span, even with a daily population ranging from 500-675 inmates. In addition to her duties related to the pandemic, Sergeant Miller is responsible for managing the day-to-day sanitation of the facility, assisting with capital projects, and managing our classifications division. Despite all of these responsibilities, she also has a two-hour round-trip drive to work each day. Her dedication to her work is truly remarkable and serves as an inspiration to all of us who work alongside her. Said her nominator: “I am confident that Sergeant Miller's unwavering commitment to excellence and her tireless efforts in the face of adversity make her an exceptional candidate for this award. Our agency is honored to have her as part of our team, and we would be thrilled to see her recognized for her hard work and dedication.” Congratulations Mary Miller!
DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE AWARD
Daniel Pennington, Lake County Sheriff's Office, IL
On April 22, 2022 Officer Daniel Pennington was assigned as the Classification Officer on 2nd Shift. Pennington responded to an unresponsive inmate in the Community Based Corrections Center (CBCC) 4T pod. The nurse performed a sternum rub and there was no response. While waiting from EMS to arrive the resident stopped breathing and a pulse was not located. Pennington began to perform chest compressions until the resident began to breath on his own and became responsive. EMS arrived and the resident walked to the gurney on his own accord. The resident was transported the hospital where he later tested positive for fentanyl. Due to Pennington's attention to detail and quick response he helped save this resident's life. Pennington is often one of the first Officers to respond to an incident in the jail because of his initiative. On another occasion in September 2022, Pennington was the first to arrive to an unresponsive inmate and began life saving measures by performing chest compressions. When rescue arrived, he continued to assist paramedics with whatever they needed. In addition to these incidents, Officer Pennington performs vital functions while he is on duty. As a Classification Officer he conducts disciplinary hearings, makes necessary moves, and has demonstrated the ability to make appropriate decisions on his own. He is also relied upon to conduct investigations within the jail and is able to obtain vital information that is pertinent to the security of the jail. Pennington is often pulled from his duties as Classification Officer due to various issues, however he manages to complete his assignments in a timely manner. He is respected by his peers and his Command Officers due to the knowledge he possesses, which he shares. Congratulations Officer Pennington!
DETENTION FACILITY INNOVATION AWARD
Wayne County Sheriff's Office, IN
The Wayne County Jail first became legal-based accredited with NIJO in 2016 and has maintained this accreditation since that time. Over the last 4 years, Wayne county achieved a Level I accreditation they have been able to maintain. This is the only facility to do this in the central region. They have also spent the past few years updating and upgrading the facility with a new door and intercom system and numerous other upgrades. This year they switched to a new inmate communication system that is more streamlined and user friendly, allowing them to better serve the inmate population which communicates with staff for medical requests, formal and informal requests, grievances, and well as other functions. For training they implemented in policy for all staff to complete the National Certified Corrections Officer program to have a better understanding of legal-based guidelines and operations. They revised the field training for all new hires this past spring to include the new NCCO program and jail academy. All new hire training and annual in-service training is developed to meet the requirements of the state while being structured to meet the legal-based guidelines for a safe and secure environment for all. The Wayne County Jail constantly reviews updates, technological advances, and training. Their administrative staff also work well with professional partnerships and other agencies to grow and promote the important of legal-based training and standards. Congratulations Wayne County Jail!
DISTINGUISHED VALOR AWARD
Scott Miller, Lake County Sheriff's Office, IL
On September 12, 2021 a Level II inmate in Administrative Segregation Unit became disruptive in his cell and officers requested assistance. Officers advised that the inmate broke his metal walker into pieces (being yielded as a weapon) and covered his cell window with toilet paper and his mattress. Corrections Response Team (CRT) was activated. Once CRT was activated the inmate activated his sprinkler head in his cell causing water to come down from the ceiling sprinklers and activated the fire alarm which was then shutoff quickly. CRT Commander Sergeant Miller arrived and stood by to communicate with the inmate to deescalate the situation. As Sergeant Miller was talking to the inmate through the door, he was able to get a visual on the inmate and observed the inmate holding onto a piece of metal against his throat. The inmate started jabbing the piece of metal into his throat. Sergeant Miller advised via radio of a suicide attempt and for CRT members to return to ASU. CRT members were unable to suit up into their protective gear and Sergeant Miller quickly put together a plan to enter the cell. As the cell door was opened O.C. spray was deployed into the cell and orders to drop the weapon were given but he refused. The inmate was tased and Officers Sheredy, Czaplicki, and Korkies entered the cell and took control of the inmate. As the inmate was transported to a safety cell they remained resistive the entire transport and was placed into the Emergency Restraint Chair (ERC). Medical staff arrived and it was determined the inmate would be force medicated. Later in the evening the inmate requested to speak to Sergeant Miller. Sergeant Miller responded and the inmate stated that he trusted him and would give him a weapon he had hidden in his rectum. One arm was released from the ERC and the inmate retrieved a one-inch piece of sharpened metal wrapped in toilet paper. The inmate handed over the object to Sergeant Miller and told him he was planning on cutting himself once he was alone. Sergeant Miller, Officers Sheredy, Korkies and Czaplicki all demonstrated bravery with full knowledge of possible risk to themselves by entering a cell with an armed inmate without any protective gear. Congratulations Sergeant Miller!