Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

2009 Medal of Merit Recipients


Medal of Merit citation for:

Clinton Correction officer Jay Siskavich

At about 9:10 p.m. on July 15, 2008, while approximately 343 inmates were preparing to leave the North Yard at Clinton Correctional Facility, an altercation erupted. Staff noticed that many of the 12 to 15 inmates involved were armed with weapons. Security staff assigned to the yard acted quickly to restore order. But as the officers separated the perpetrators, Correction Officer Jay Siskavich saw one inmate chasing and trying to stab another inmate with a metal shank. After the perpetrator ignored several direct orders from Officer Siskavich to drop the weapon, Officer Siskavich jumped onto his back and attempted to gain control of the weapon and protect the intended victim. The perpetrator then turned and stabbed Officer Siskavich in the right forearm. Another officer attempting to assist Officer Siskavich sustained a deep stab wound in the left wrist. Despite his own injury, Officer Siskavich continued to struggle with the perpetrator and finally gained control of his right arm. Other officers responding to the scene disarmed the perpetrator and brought him under control, ending the incident.

Officer Siskavich’s quick and courageous actions, and his determination in the face of his own injury, prevented serious injury to his fellow responding officers as well as an inmate.

Officer Siskavich, you displayed bravery and courage by willingly placing yourself in harm’s way.

Age: 48
DOCS Work History: 2/23/87
Start Date at Clinton: 7/27/89

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Medal of Merit citation for:

Orleans Correction Officer Al Miller

While working on his house on the banks of the Tonawanda Creek in Indian Falls on August 16, 2008, Correction Officer Al Miller heard loud voices coming from the creek. At first, he did not think anything of it, since logging had taken place near the creek the previous weekend. But because recent heavy rains had raised the water level and created rapids, and because he knew of an eight-foot waterfall in the area, Officer Miller had second thoughts.

He decided to investigate, and after climbing down an embankment covered with thickets and undergrowth, Officer Miller saw a woman and her two young daughters stranded with their kayak in the middle of the white water rapids. The woman, who appeared to be in shock, was holding her two-year-old and keeping a hand on the kayak containing her four-year-old. Officer Miller waded into the rapids and attempted to speak to the mother, who did not respond. He then turned his attention to the four-year-old and, after offering to get her a towel to dry off, took her from the kayak. Before carrying the girl back to shore, Officer Miller managed to get her mother to confirm that she and the two-year-old were secure for the moment. Officer Miller instructed the mother to let the kayak go, then carried the four-year-old back to shore. After handing the child to his girlfriend, Officer Miller disregarded pleas from onlookers on the opposite bank of the creek to stay out of the water since the local fire department was on its way, and he waded back to help the mother and her other daughter. The mother eventually handed him the two-year-old, who became combative and nearly knocked Officer Miller off-balance and into the rapids. By that point, the Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department had arrived. Volunteers had formed a human chain to Officer Miller and helped get the two-year-old to safety. The mother indicated she felt too unsteady to walk back to shore with Officer Miller. But he quickly proposed a solution by asking her to place her right foot against his left foot, and when she felt him step, she would step with him. Using this method, Officer Miller helped the woman return safely to shore, where she was reunited with her children.

Officer Miller, without regard for his own safety, entered cold, dangerous white water rapids to rescue a mother and her two children from conditions that most likely would have resulted in catastrophe if he had not taken immediate action.

Officer Miller does not consider himself a hero for his actions, and even walked away quietly when the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department asked who had saved the woman and her children. But by putting himself in harm’s way to help others, Officer Miller is, in fact, a hero worthy of recognition and gratitude.

Officer Miller, you displayed bravery and courage by willingly placing yourself in harm’s way.

Age: 44
DOCS Work History: 7/19/93
Start Date at Orleans: 10/14/04

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