DJJ in the Lead: Recent Graduates of the Command College Performance Management Program
Story and Photos by Lisa Kenn of the Office of Communications
The Georgia Department of Corrections and Columbus State University honored 69 graduates of the Professional Management Program (PMP) in Criminal Justice on August 24th at the State Offices South at Tift College Roberts Chapel. Among the graduates were two of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice’s finest – Special Operations Lieutenant William Belflower and Metro Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) Associate Director of Security Monique Brandenburg. They completed the 400-hour certification program over the course of two years while maintaining their full-time responsibilities at DJJ.
Lieutenant Belflower and Associate Director Brandenburg
The Professional Management Program in association with Columbus State University serves as an “advanced school” for public safety personnel, bringing together leaders in corporate and public management to provide public safety officers with intense training in management theory and practice. Belflower found the leadership instruction modules to be exceptionally eye-opening saying, “I benefited tremendously from these modules. The fact that you had so many different supervisors/managers in your class and each had a different take on how to supervise/manage was a tremendous benefit as to insight on what they encounter compared to what you encounter. The discussion and class participation/instructor interaction was excellent.”
Department of Corrections Assistant Commissioner/Chief of Staff Greg Dozier
To participate in the PMP certificate courses applicants must be nominated by the head of their public safety agency and be accepted by Columbus State University. Brandenburg expressed her initial unease at entering a classroom setting, but also said that “the majority of the classes gave me a better appreciation for the tasks my security staff/management team do, day in and day out.” Brandenburg also found that “Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and also to be able to lead, you must first know how to follow.”
Associate Director Brandenburg receiving her certificate
Both graduates hinted that this ceremony was only the beginning of their journey down a path of continuing their education and professional improvement. For Belflower it means completing a plan put aside 20 years ago. “Obtaining this certificate has pushed me to complete my bachelor’s degree… Since completing the certificate program, I am currently enrolled at Columbus State University and will complete my bachelor’s degree in 2018. Once I earn that I plan to immediately enroll in Command College through Columbus State University.” Brandenburg summed it up by stating, “Graduation was part one of many that are to come… the sky is the limit.”
The DJJ family congratulates Lt. Belflower and Associate Director Brandenburg on this unique and exciting accomplishment!
DJJ in the Community: Rockdale RYDC School Supply Drive
Story support and photos from Rockdale RYDC Volunteer Resources Coordinator Staci Hill
Recently, the Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center (Rockdale RYDC) sponsored a back-to-school supply drive for deserving students at the Clements Middle School in Covington. Over 175 school supply items including pencils, pens, books, crayons and rulers were donated by the Rockdale RYDC staff. Youth involved in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program also participated in this community service program by helping to decorate the school supply collection boxes that were placed in locations around the area.
Rockdale RYDC staff Lt. Bithiah Prather, Ashanti Jefferson and Staci Hill meet with Clements Middle School Guidance Counselor Tiphanie Dean
Clements Middle School 7th Grade Class Representatives
Staff members of the Rockdale RYDC in front of the collected school supplies
The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank the staff and youth at the Rockdale RYDC who helped make this year's school supply drive a huge success. For more information about DJJ's PBIS program, visit http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/pbisatdjj/.
Vignati Appointed to Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice
Vignati Appointed to Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice
Joseph Vignati, Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Community Services with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, has been appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice. He will serve as the primary member for Jurisdiction G, which comprises Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. Vignati’s term will begin on October 1, 2016, and continue through September 30, 2018, at which time he will be eligible to serve an additional two-year term.
“This appointment is an honor for Joe and for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and it speaks volumes for what he has accomplished over the past couple years at DJJ to be selected to this elite group,” stated DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles. “On behalf of all of DJJ’s employees, we are proud and delighted for Joe. He will help convey FACJJ’s perspectives on juvenile justice issues to the President, Members of Congress and the OJJDP Administrator.”
Reacting to the appointment, Vignati said, “I am humbled to be selected for this role with the Committee and look forward to representing Georgia and other states in the Southeast. Members of the FACJJ provide input regarding the concerns of the communities they represent. Local and state leadership is critical when it comes to designing and overseeing long-term juvenile justice reform. I am appreciative of the opportunity to help shape this important work.”
The first meeting Vignati will attend is scheduled for September 29-30 in Washington, D.C. The meeting will highlight U.S. Department of Justice and OJJDP initiatives that influence program development and have the potential to change the way the needs of system-involved children and youth are addressed. According to Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, the work of OJJDP centers on an evidence-based and developmental approach to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.
In his letter confirming the appointment, Administrator Listenbee wrote Vignati, “I look forward to our future conversations and learning more about your experiences addressing the needs of our nation’s vulnerable children, youth and families.”
Intimately involved in all aspects of Georgia’ juvenile justice system for the past 29 years, Vignati has tirelessly served at-risk youth in a wide variety of roles, both in his career with state government and as a volunteer in community settings. During his tenure with the Governor’s Office, he successfully secured $67 million in federal criminal justice funds for the state of Georgia.
Vignati joined the Georgia Children and Youth Coordinating Council in 2000 and served as the state’s Juvenile Justice Specialist until 2014. In 2008, he was named Director of Justice Programs of the newly created Governor’s Office for Children and Families in Georgia and served as Administrator of the Office’s Justice Division. In 2009, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue issued an official commendation recognizing him as a great asset to the state.
In 2010, Vignati was elected the Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s (CJJ) National Juvenile Justice Specialist by his peers in the 56 U.S. states and territories and served a two-year term. The CJJ presented the Tony Gobar Outstanding Juvenile Justice Specialist Award to Vignati in 2011 for his “demonstrated passion and dedication to bettering the juvenile justice system, advocacy for detention alternatives and service as a leader and a voice for juvenile justice specialists from around the nation in his role as the CJJ National Juvenile Justice Specialist. By exemplifying leadership through service, he reminds us all that every child is indeed special.” In 2012, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an official commendation recognizing “his ongoing contributions to the protection and well-being of Georgia’s children.” In 2015 the Georgia Juvenile Services Association honored Vignati with the Harold K. Ables Award, recognizing his significant contributions to the field.
Vignati currently serves as Co-Chair of the Juvenile Incentive Grant Funding Committee that has helped award over $20 million in grant funds specifically aimed to reduce unnecessary out-of-home placements of youth appearing before juvenile courts across Georgia.
On May 15, 2015, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner, responsible for 97 offices providing state juvenile probation and aftercare services across Georgia.
DJJ Enthusiastically Supports Governor Deal’s Law Enforcement Pay & Training Package
(Atlanta, GA) – Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced a law enforcement pay and training reform package today that includes a 20 percent pay raise for more than 3,300 state law enforcement officers and a multi-phase overhaul of officer training and certification courses. The pay increase is effective January 1, 2017, and represents more than $78 million in state funding in the amended FY17 budget and the FY18 budget.
“Since our founding, one of government’s primary roles is the protection of its people,” said Deal. “While the responsibility to provide for the public’s safety has not changed over the course of time, the demands of fulfilling this fundamental obligation have changed and grown. We ask our law enforcement personnel of all levels and ranks to do a very difficult job, one that requires great skill, long suffering and dedication of purpose. It is incumbent upon the government to recruit and retain the best and brightest, while equipping them with the training and resources they require. They deserve our unwavering commitment and support.”
Governor Deal continued, “To that end, I’ve crafted a law enforcement proposal consisting of two major components: more pay for our state officers who risk their lives every day, and changes to how we train both state and local authorities who have the power to make arrests. In crafting these reforms, I sought recommendations and input from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Center. I’m thankful for their efforts and those of our public safety agencies and boards as these changes are implemented.”
Avery D. Niles, Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), stated, “On behalf of the 135 DJJ law enforcement staff positively impacted by this package, we are very grateful to Governor Deal and the Georgia General Assembly. Like law enforcement officers in other areas of state government, DJJ law enforcement personnel perform difficult and dangerous tasks daily, and this pay increase helps recognize their outstanding work.”
Governor Nathan Deal Announces Major Law Enforcement Reform Package
News release from Governor Nathan Deal's Office of Communication
Deal announces major law enforcement reform package Proposal includes pay raises, additional training for state officers
Gov. Nathan Deal today announced a law enforcement reform package that includes a 20 percent pay raise for more than 3,300 state law enforcement officers and a multi-phase overhaul of officer training and certification courses. The pay increase is effective Jan. 1, 2017, and represents more than $78 million in state funding in the amended FY17 budget and the FY18 budget.
“Since our founding, one of government’s primary roles is the protection of its people,” said Deal. “While the responsibility to provide for the public’s safety has not changed over the course of time, the demands of fulfilling this fundamental obligation have changed and grown. We ask our law enforcement personnel of all levels and ranks to do a very difficult job, one that requires great skill, long suffering, and dedication of purpose. It is incumbent upon the government to recruit and retain the best and brightest, while equipping them with the training and resources they require. They deserve our unwavering commitment and support.
“To that end, I’ve crafted a law enforcement proposal consisting of two major components: more pay for our state officers who risk their lives every day, and changes to how we train both state and local authorities who have the power to make arrests. In crafting these reforms, I sought recommendations and input from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and the Peace Officer Standards (GPSTC) and Training Center (POST). I’m thankful for their efforts and those of our public safety agencies and boards as these changes are implemented.”
The funding component of the proposal includes:
• More than 3,300 state law enforcement officers will receive a 20 percent pay raise next January. This represents $78,990,735 in funding in the amended FY17 budget and the FY18 budget.
The multi-phase training overhaul includes:
• Phase 1—Increasing continuing education training and certification courses o This phase includes expanding the list of specific training courses required by POST as part of the continuing education requirements for sworn peace officers. This includes training on use of force, the concepts of effective policing and the importance of building positive community relations.
• Phase 2—Streamlining and expansion of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) o This nationally standardized program is designed to equip officers with the knowledge and skill to approach crises involving individuals with mental illness. It is currently administered by the GBI, which has trained about 9,500 state and local law enforcement officers. Phase 2 involves the transfer of CIT to GPSTC, streamlining training requirements and increasing access to more than 57,000 state and local officers.
• Phase 3—Creation of a task force to review the current Basic Law Enforcement Officer Training Course o The task force will be comprised of law enforcement officers, community leaders and elected officials charged with reviewing current law enforcement training standards and providing recommendations for improvement.