Van Kirk wins top state jailers’ award

Published 8:26 pm Friday, July 30, 2010

Capt. Janice Van Kirk, the second-in-command at the Decatur County Jail, is the recipient of the Georgia Jail Association’s 2010 Detention Supervisor of the Year.

Van Kirk, who has been employed with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office since November 1993, received the award at the association’s summer training conference, held earlier this month in Columbus, Ga.

As a Deputy Sheriff, under the direction of Sheriff Wiley Griffin, Van Kirk serves in the position of jail commander, assisting Major Linn Harrell, the jail’s administrator. Thirty-three detention officers are currently employed at the jail. Van Kirk is the only remaining member of the original staff hired when the County Jail relocated to its current location, 912 Spring Creek Road.

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Nominated by her fellow officers, Van Kirk was chosen to receive the award because of her leadership and diligence in striving to make the jail “the best running jail in Georgia,” as Lt. Donna Thompson wrote in her nomination letter.

Lt. Beth Shaffer, president of the Georgia Jail Association and a lieutenant with the Houston County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Office, presented the award to Van Kirk at the County Board of Commissioners’ meeting last Tuesday. Sheriff Griffin and a number of jail staff and deputies were also present to honor Van Kirk, who was also presented with a commendation from county commissioners in recognition of her exemplary work.

According to Lt. Thompson, one of Van Kirk’s most-used mottos is, “Be firm, but fair.” Van Kirk is also responsible for developing almost all of the jail’s forms, policies and operation manuals, Lt. Thompson wrote.

Van Kirk said she feels “extremely honored” to be chosen for the award and thanked her fellow detention officers at the County Jail for their hard work.

“She is always professional and strives to make sure each detention officer conducts themselves in the same manner,” Sheriff Griffin said.