Dennis R. Poole, 34,
of Jackson, is the 1987 Corrections Officer of the Year for the Michigan
Department of Corrections. Poole is an officer at the Central Complex
of the State Prison of Southern Michigan (SPSM) near Jackson.
Runners up were: Robert
Kyle Browning, 39, of Chelsea, an officer at Cassidy Lake Technical School
near Chelsea; Dean Thomas, 29, of Detroit, an officer at Huron Valley
Men's Facility near Ypsilanti.
All three officers
will be honored by the Department at a special ceremony later this summer.
Poole will be given a trip to the annual congress of the American Correctional
Association in New Orleans and he, Thomas and Browning will be quests
at the annual conference of the Michigan Corrections Association this
fall in Grand Rapids.
Director Robert Brown, Jr. said Poole was chosen "because of his
consistent, steady, level-headed approach to handling the difficult situations
that occur routinely in Four Block at SPSM." Four Block houses about
500 prisoners, many of whom are management problems.
In addition, Brown
said, Poole has distinguished himself in the community by volunteering
to supervise a recreational basketball program for the Jackson school
Poole also earned
special recognition from the Jackson Fire Department for helping save
three children from a house fire on February 22, 1987.
He has been with the
Department and SPSM since February of 1985 and has worked continuously
in Four Block.
In nominating Poole
for the award, officials at SPSM said he: "toils daily to provide
a safe but regulated environment for the prisoner population in that block.
He maintains the respect and admiration of his fellow officers."
Poole is married and
has a daughter. He graduated from Grand Valley College with a bachelor's
degree in 1977. Before joining the Department he worked for Jackson Community
College as the student program coordinator for the prison program.
Browning has been
with the Department since May, 1969, when he started as an officer at
the Michigan Parole Camp near Jackson. He also has been a transportation
officer at Camp Waterloo.
In nominating Browning,
Warden John Staten said Browning "has been instrumental in improving
relations between the institution and the community."
often responds to the institution on his own time, without pay, to search
for escapees and has been successful in apprehending several of them."
Thomas has been at
Huron Valley Men's Facility since 1984, when he first joined the Department.
In nominating Thomas,
Warden Gene E. Borgert said "Thomas has demonstrated exceptional
communications skills. He has defused many potentially volatile situations
Thomas was one of
two officers seriously stabbed during a 1985 fracas at the men's facility.
Warden Borgert said he "proceeded to do his job, taking the necessary
actions, under extremely dangerous circumstances."
"If I had an
institution fully staffed with people of the caliber of Dean Thomas, it
would be the most efficiently-operated, clean and save work environment
in the history of corrections in this state," Borgert said.
This is the third
year that the Department has selected an officer for special recognition.
Among the criteria used to determine the award are involvement with the
community, leadership qualities, communications skills and use of sick