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Sheriff's Office

Posted on: October 8, 2020

Commander Matthew Figueroa Receives NIJO Administrator of the Year Award

Flagstaff, AZ – The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is honored to share the announcement that on September 28, 2020 Matthew Figueroa, Commander of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility, was recognized by the National Institute for Jail Operations (NIJO) as Administrator of the Year for the western region. 

Each year the National Institute for Jail Operations (NIJO) sponsors a Detention Conference known as JAILCON. The conference provides an avenue for corrections professionals to receive training, make professional connections, and recognize fellow corrections professionals for their hard work and dedication to this profession. Throughout the year, NIJO receives nominations from across the country for awards ranging from Detention Officer of the Year to the Distinguished Valor Award. The nominations are board reviewed, and the awards are given out during the NIJO conference. This year the conference and award ceremony occurred virtually.

Commander Matt Figueroa has dedicated his professional life to detention services, beginning his career with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office in 1996.  Matt has worked at every level of detention services and promoted to Commander in 2014.   Throughout his career, Matt has been an invaluable asset to the organization and responsible for many improvements to services and the facility.  He provides leadership and support to the Sheriff’s Command Staff and his more than 100 detention staff.  He is a respected leader locally, statewide, and nationally for bringing professionalism, training, innovation, and community partnerships to the table.

One of Commander Figueroa’s recent accomplishments, which was recognized nationally for its innovation, is the introduction of a “Pre-Rule 11 Committee.”  This Committee, under Matt’s leadership, reviews inmates’ status to determine if they are eligible for mental health or medical treatment best attended to in a non-custodial environment. This committee is a partnership of detention staff, municipal and justice courts, community mental health providers, in custody mental health professionals, city prosecutor and city public defender offices, local support groups and charities, and other stakeholders. Their bi-weekly cooperative sessions allow many inmates with minor offenses, suffering from mental health or substance abuse, or caught in a cycle of poverty and homelessness to be diverted from extended incarceration periods to treatment providers out of custody. Since its inception, the committee has been able to divert over 100 people to treatment best suited for out of custody care.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, detention facilities all over the nation were forced to respond to the challenges of preventing wide-spread disease among an at-risk population. Commander Figueroa and his Detention Command staff took this challenge head-on and was an early proponent for instituting protective measures for the safety of his staff, the community, and the approximately 400 inmates at the Coconino Detention Facility.   He immediately worked with criminal justice partners to implement booking procedures, additional video court system procedures, and other steps to limit exposure of staff and inmates to the virus. Matt designed a 14-day quarantine system and COVID testing of all inmates booked into the facility. He also orchestrated full testing of all detention staff, staff temperature check stations with logs, and ongoing education of staff throughout the facility. Commander Figueroa communicates daily with county health officials and Detention Commanders throughout the state, as well as with the Arizona Department of Corrections to minimize the effects of the pandemic. His dedication to the safety and wellbeing of inmates and the community during these times is unmatched.

Matt Figueroa is an exemplary leader, well known in the Detention and Jail Operations communities. He is dedicated to the professional development of detention staff, innovative and forward-thinking detention service operations, coordinated and effective criminal justice solutions, and improving the quality of life in our communities. Outside of the office, he also has been active for many years in supporting and developing youth through sports opportunities, and he serves as a member of the Flagstaff High School baseball booster club.

A list of all the NIJO award recipients and short descriptions of their contributions to the corrections profession for which they were recognized can be viewed at https://jailtraining.org/jailcon2020-awards-ceremony/.

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