Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Remarks by Commissioner Brian Fischer
Memorial Service & Medals Ceremony
DOCS Training Academy
June 7, 2007

Today, as we have done in the past, we gather to recognize and honor individuals who have demonstrated a willingness to come to the aid of others, even at the risk of personal injury.

We also come together to conduct a memorial service in order to remember and honor those no longer with us. By doing so, we recognize the good works and human kindness of the departed, the sacrifices they made in fulfilling their commitments as correctional staff.

I also believe there is another reason for us to gather and reflect; an acceptance that we are not alone but part of something larger than ourselves.

Though the recipients today of the Medal and Merit Awards are correction employees, would not their deeds be just as significant had they not been members of our agency? Of course they would be.

For those who gave their lives in the past as members of the correction system, would their sacrifices have been less meaningful had they not been correction employees? Of course not.

We are all members of the human race, and as such, are dependent upon one another in so many ways.

In the words of Albert Einstein:

"A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give the same measure as I have received and am still receiving."

I believe that each of us has a role to play in life. Most often we don't know what that role might be until it is thrust upon us. All we can do is meet those challenges head on by doing our jobs, taking the risk, and standing up for what is right.

For those killed in the line of duty, a memorial service is most appropriate. It is for those who did what was asked of them that we pay our respects today.

Today's service also gives us all a moment to consider the present and the future. While we operate one of the safest and best correctional systems in the country, we nevertheless must stay vigilant. We must continue to work together and protect one another as we move forward in whatever role we're required to take on. We must make sure our staff go into our prisons every day with the best training and equipment as we can provide. We must make sure we all understand and accept our roles as leaders and make the best possible decisions for our people that we can.

Today we are poised to move ahead on major initiatives that call upon us to be providers of treatment, care and custody of some of the neediest and most difficult. How well we measure up will be determined by society as we return to the community those who have earned their right to be released.

As we embark on these and other initiatives it will be with the full support of many people, starting with Governor Eliot Spitzer and legislators like Senator Volker and Assemblyman Aubry and our own Deputy Secretary Michael Balboni. Their support is, and has been unwavering.

I am confident that in the coming months and years we, as members of the Department of Correctional Services will continue to prove ourselves in both thought and deed by working hand in hand with one another and with those outside the Department who stand by us.

Thank you.