NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision 

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
David A. Paterson, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182

For immediate release:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prison Commissioner Awards Medals to Two Employees; Ceremony Also Honors 35 Employees Who Died in the Line of Duty

Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer awarded two medals today to Correctional Services employees for humanitarian and courageous acts, while honoring the memory of employees who have died in the line of duty since 1861.

The 11th annual Memorial Service and Medals Ceremony took place at 1 p.m. at the Department’s Albany Training Academy on New Scotland Road.

Medal of Merit recipients (with full citations available at http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/10MemorialMedals/MedalCitations2010.html) are Correction Officers:

  • Assistant Deputy Superintendent Eileen Russell of Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Washington County), who helped save the life of a restaurant owner by immediately applying cardiopulmonary resuscitation upon seeing her fellow citizen’s distress and continuing until medical personnel arrived, and;
  • Sergeant Thomas Mulhern of Cayuga Correctional Facility (Cayuga County), who disregarded his own safety to pull an expectant mother from her overturned vehicle in the middle of an icy road in the pre-dawn darkness just before her van was struck by another vehicle – and just a day before she gave birth to a healthy son.

Photographs from the ceremony will be available this afternoon at http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/10MemorialMedals/index.html

In a message, Governor David A. Paterson said: “The two individuals we present with the Medal of Merit today represent the 30,000 professional Department employees whose dedication and commitment have helped make ours one of the finest State correctional systems in the nation.

“For those families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty, I offer my sincere appreciation and gratitude on behalf of all New Yorkers. This State will always remember the bravery and devotion to duty of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Mary B. Kavaney, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Public Safety, said: “Day in and day out, employees of the Department of Correctional Services exemplify what it means to serve and protect. Their jobs are challenging and, often, the important role they play in keeping New York safe is overlooked. Too often, they are largely out of sight and out of mind. Today is their day to stand in the spotlight and accept the public recognition that they so richly deserve. I am proud to be here today, on behalf of Governor Paterson and all New Yorkers, to thank them for their dedication and commitment, for taking on a vital and frequently thankless duty, and for putting service above self.”

Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, chairwoman of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, said: “Clearly the Medal of Merit recipients’ training and dedication to helping others is utilized during every moment of their lives. There can be no better evidence of valor than for an individual to risk his or her life for another human being.”

Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry, chairman of the Committee on Correction, said: “It has been a pleasure attending the ceremony over the years and this year is no exception. Honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in years past and paying homage to current heroes is truly an honor both for the individuals and the State of New York.”

Senator Dale M. Volker said: “With so many concerns on the minds of New Yorkers during these difficult times, one thing remains constant, and under the radar: the State of New York’s prison system is the finest and most professionally run correctional system in the United States. You should all be very proud of that reputation.

“Many simply do not understand the tremendous sacrifices that you and your families must endure, but those of us who have been involved with criminal justice issues fully understand what you go through on a daily basis and are grateful for your dedication, bravery, your service and your sacrifice. It has been my honor to be with you and share in the tremendous accomplishments of corrections personnel and to make sure that those who have lost their lives in the line of duty will always be remembered for their heroic deeds.”

Commissioner Fischer said: “We all live and work in two worlds, the world outside with our friends and families and the world inside the prisons with its inherent levels of intensity and difficulty. As corrections professionals, we often find ourselves using the professional skills we learned over the years in our actions in both worlds. Those skills allowed our medal recipients to come to the assistance of strangers in peril. They exemplify the best in all of us.”

Paying tribute to the 35 employees who died in the line of duty, Commissioner Fischer added: “As the years go by, fewer of us have personal memories of the fallen. That is why it is so important that we, as an organization, set aside this day, each year, to pay our respects to those no longer with us.”

The annual ceremony takes place at the Academy’s 50-acre Albany campus. Since 1984, the Department has awarded 102 medals of merit and 46 medals of honor. The centerpiece of the memorial park in front of the Academy is an Empire blue granite memorial that stands 12 feet high, six feet wide, 18 inches deep and weighs 19,711 pounds. The names of fallen employees are enshrined with plaques displayed in the Academy Memorial Room. Governor Paterson's proclamation of June 6-12, 2010, as "Correctional Services Employee Week" is also on display there.