Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Delivered by Commissioner Glenn S. Goord during the Memorial Service and Medals Ceremony at the Albany Training Academy

This is always a special day for the Department, and a day we look forward to more than any other.

Someone once said:

"True heroism is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."

The work done every minute of every day in our correctional system is not about glory or headlines - or surpassing all others. It is about keeping New York's communities safe. The mission of our Department is extremely challenging, and the commitment to excellence that keeps our prisons safe generally goes unnoticed.

That philosophy is what we celebrate here this afternoon, and it is my great privilege to lead an agency full of heroes. I commend those who help us achieve it every day.

As we honor this year's heroes, today's ceremony also provides a time of reflection as we pay tribute to the 35 employees who have died in the line of duty. They have bestowed on all employees of this Department a memory of courage, heroism and selflessness that will continue to serve as the cornerstone values for all of us.

I welcome their survivors here today, and promise that the memory of these 35 heroes will live on.

I'd also like to welcome two distinguished members of the state Legislature, Senator Dale Volker and Assemblyman Jeff Aubry. We have worked side-by-side for many years to develop the best correctional system in the country, and I know we're meeting that goal. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you both for your efforts

Our commitment to safety and security and preserving the memories of those who have passed is shared by Governor George Pataki. The Department has known no greater friend in our mission of public protection.

The Governor has set ambitious goals for the Department, and has provided unprecedented resources for us to achieve them. That combination, along with the professionalism and commitment of our employees, has helped us establish New York as a national model for correctional systems.

During the past decade:

We've undertaken the largest maximum-security prison construction project in state history.

We've seen a reduction in the total number of prisoners housed in New York facilities, while inmate populations across the country continue to increase.

We've established one of the best staff-to-inmate ratios of any correctional system in the nation.

And in 2005, we saw the fewest number of inmate assaults on staff in nearly a quarter-century.

Our prisons have never been more secure, and I'm confident that the continued excellence of our staff will ensure that the highest levels of safety and security are maintained in the future.

Today we pay tribute to our fallen heroes and honor those who have gone beyond the call of duty. We reflect on sacrifices made, and a job well done.

As new challenges arise, I have no doubt - the diligence and professionalism of the men and women of this Department will allow us to reach new heights.

Thank you all for coming today.