Lansing, Mich. – Renee Nichols, a Corrections Officer at the Saginaw Correctional Facility, has been named the 2023 Michigan Department of Corrections Officer of the Year.
“Renee Nichols is an exemplary leader at her facility and her knowledge, expertise and passion are some of the many reasons she is often utilized to train and help shape the next generation of corrections professionals in her role as a trainer at our corrections officer academies,” said Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. “At her facility, she is highly regarded for her creativity, attention to detail and ability to work well in high-pressure situations. I am proud to commend Officer Nichols on this well-earned award.”
Officer Nichols has been an MDOC Corrections Officer for seven years. She is known for having a high level of integrity and moral standing. She works well under pressure and is highly adaptable.
Officer Nichols was an Institutional Training Instructor for two years and has been a Field Training Officer since 2020. She is the backup Grievance Coordinator and Hearing Investigator at the Saginaw Correctional Facility.
As an officer at Saginaw Correctional Facility, Officer Nichols is often sought out for her creativity and attention to detail. She recently assisted in the creation of a new template and in updating the Visiting Room post orders, ensuring proper inventory and usage of children’s tablets. She created a sanitation checklist for audits and revamped prisoner payroll and training records for front house porters. She has assisted in the yearly sanitation and lock audits, ensuring accountability and security.
“After interviewing the top five candidates for Corrections Officer of the Year, it is clear that we have an incredible amount of talent in our department,” said Ray Sholtz, who represents corrections officers on the Officer of the Year selection committee and is the Vice President at Michigan Corrections Organization. “All candidates had exceptional credentials and Officer Nichols was a great choice. It is a privilege to have her in our ranks.”
She volunteered as the Durand Band Booster Treasurer from 2019 to 2022, handling finances and ensuring competition fees were paid. She was also a chaperone for statewide competitions. She was a Girl Scout Leader from 2012 to 2015 and a 4H Leader from 2011 to 2015.
Officer Nichols has been a firefighter with Venice Township since 2005, responding to house fires, car accidents, and medical emergencies. She holds fundraisers and public relations events with the fire department, participating in community events such as parades and open houses.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about your experiences,” Officer Nichols said. “Too many officers are afraid to reach out. In reality, they need to. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”
The Michigan Correctional Officers’ Training Council, comprised of representatives from the MDOC, Michigan Corrections Organization, law enforcement, and higher education, chose Officer Nichols for the honor from a pool of five finalists.
Finalists included: Corrections Officer Mark Dunn, Oaks Correctional Facility; Investigator Jacob Poindexter, Absconder Recovery Unit; Corrections Officer Alfonzie Pipkins, Central Michigan Correctional Facility; and Corrections Officer Timothy Fleury, Alger Correctional Facility.