Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Remarks by Commissioner Brian Fischer
Graduating Correction Officer Class
Albany Training Academy
Sept. 12, 2008

First, let me thank all the friends and family members who have come out today to celebrate the graduation of their loved ones.

I also want to thank the many staff members of the Department’s Training Academy, and to Mr. Bruce Olsen, the Department’s Director of Training, for everyone’s dedicated work in the past several weeks and throughout the year.

To you, the parents, friends and loved ones: thank you for coming here today and thank you for sharing your loved one with this agency. I know you have all missed your loved ones while they were here in the academy. Your personal support cannot be underestimated.

I also know that you are all very proud of what these recruits have accomplished, as you should be. I also suspect that you are a little worried about their new careers.

You need to understand that this agency’s first concern is for the safety of our staff - your sons and daughters, husbands and wives.

I will not tell you that their new jobs are not without danger. That would be untrue. Managing a prison is a serious job. I can tell you, however, that everyone pulls together to help one another, especially in times of problems.

To you the graduates, I do not know what brought each of you to corrections, but this agency is glad that you chose us. You are becoming a member of a very large and very professional organization. You are also becoming a member of an agency that is seen as one of the best correctional systems in the nation. If you feel proud today, wait; that sense of pride will only be heightened as you move forward in your career.

Notice I used the word career, not job. A job is something you do to pay the bills. A career is something you invest your life in. A career is what being a correctional employee is all about.

Each of us, regardless of his or her title or position in the Department, is responsible for two things.

We are responsible for the care, custody and treatment of people who are incarcerated. While we call them inmates, they are people, just like you and me. They depend upon you, and how you treat them is important.

They will often make your job difficult and frustrating. You will get angry at them, annoyed with them, and perhaps even feel threatened by them. It is our responsibility to remain professional at all times, especially during the most difficult of times.

Some will see you as tough but fair; others may see you as insensitive and unfair. As your Commissioner, I hope your reputation will be one of tough but fair, for that is what being a professional is all about.

The second element of responsibility that you must take upon yourselves is to support and protect one another. Inside a prison, we need to watch out for one another, to work together, both with other uniformed officers and with the civilian staff. This support and protection, I hope, will go beyond what happens on a gallery or in a housing unit. It should reach out beyond the walls and into the community from which we come.

You each made new friends while here in the academy. Believe me, they will last a lifetime if you want. Your individual paths may cross many times over the next several years, and when it does, you will think back about your time in the academy. You all have a shared history and a shared memory.

You have all done well here. We have given you a basic education, and now you are ready for your graduate internships. Put to good use what you have learned here. Listen to your supervisors and to seasoned officers.

Remember that each day will bring a new problem. Learn from each.

As Commissioner, I ask that you consider the following concepts:

In a few moments you will each receive your Peace Officer shield. I have carried a shield for a long time and I am proud to do so. I respect what the shield represents and what it means to be a correction professional. I ask that when you receive your shield, you accept it with pride and with the understanding of the new role you have chosen for yourself.

Thank you and congratulations.