Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Peter K. Cutler
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182
peter.cutler@doccs.ny.gov
www.doccs.ny.gov

For immediate release:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND COMMUNITY SUPERVISION
HONORS CURRENT EMPLOYEES, REMEMBERS FALLEN COMRADES DURING 13TH ANNUAL MEMORIAL SERVICE & MEDALS CEREMONY

DOCCS Commissioner, Deputy Secretary to the Governor Present Medals to Five Correctional Employees; Ceremony Also Honors 41 Who Died in the Line of Duty

ALBANY - Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Commissioner Brian Fischer, joined by Elizabeth Glazer, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Public Safety, today awarded a medal of honor and four medals of merit to DOCCS employees for humanitarian and courageous acts, while honoring the memory of employees who have died in the line of duty since 1861.

In a message, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said: "Today, as in years past, this solemn ceremony commemorates the dedication and professionalism exhibited by individuals of extraordinary courage. This year’s honorees are outstanding representatives of the over 30,000 employees of the Department, which continues to lead the nation in innovative and progressive corrections and community supervision programs and policies. I thank all of the employees of the Department who maintain outstanding standards of service to all New Yorkers."

The 13th 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 Honor and Medal of Merit recipients (full citations are attached and available online at http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/12MemorialMedals/MedalCitations2012.html) are:

Medal of Honor:

  • Senior Parole Officer (SPO) Karen Gormley, in leading the apprehension of an absconder, was severely injured and, despite bleeding from a blow to her head, disabled the absconder and recovered a firearm from him. During the course of this action, SPO Gormley demonstrated superior leadership, exceptional courage and tremendous professionalism to bring a potentially dangerous incident to a decisive end.

Medal of Merit:

  • Then-Sergeant Robert Shields of Five Points Correctional Facility rescued a woman who was struggling in a cold, swift river. Sergeant Shields tied a rope around his waist and attempted to get the woman to hold onto the other end. She was rescued and treated for severe hypothermia and chest pains. Sergeant Shields, without regard for his own safety, came to the immediate assistance of a stranger in extreme danger.
  • Ulster Correctional Facility Correction Officer John Iocovello, under extremely dangerous weather conditions caused by Hurricane Irene, took upon himself to operate a facility backhoe to remove debris that caused significant flooding at Ulster, which caused a major disruption in services including an electrical power outage, forcing the facility to convert to generator power. Because of Correction Officer Iocovello’s actions, the majority of the flooding was eventually diverted from the facility and its electrical power was eventually restored.
  • Woodbourne Correctional Facility Correction Officer William Tolli and Sullivan Correctional Facility Correction Officer Mike Cassidy put themselves in harm’s way when they went to the aid of a motorist who had crashed their vehicle, rolled over and came to rest on the roof of the car. They were able to release the seatbelt and lower the unconscious driver down thus taking the weight off of his head and neck, which was resting against the roof. They moved him to an area a safe distance away from his vehicle. The driver was later identified as Nicholas Chalk, Supervising Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at Woodbourne Correctional Facility.

Deputy Secretary Glazer said: "Today we honor the members of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to the people of this state, as well as celebrate the heroism and dedication of five active DOCCS employees. Because of their hard work and dedication, our correctional and community supervision system is one of the safest in the nation. On behalf of Governor Cuomo, I thank them for their selfless service."

Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said, "New York’s corrections professionals exhibit great strength and courage both at work in our facilities and at home in our communities. I join everyone today in expressing my gratitude to this year’s Medal recipients for their service in some of the most difficult workplaces and difficult situations imaginable. Their quick actions and bravery saved lives and earned our respect."

Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry said, "We are all inspired by the individual heroism and competence of the award recipients being honored today. But we should also be aware that it is probably not a coincidence that these correctional and parole employees exhibited such extraordinary courage and quick thinking in emergency situations. Because of their excellent training, professional pride and commitment to public service, the people we are honoring today rose to the occasion to ensure the safety and protection of those around them, just like they do at work every day. We are proud of the men and women of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Thank you for keeping New Yorkers safe, both on and off the job."

Commissioner Fischer said: "Today’s ceremony, as in previous years, pays fitting tribute to our forty-one colleagues who paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting the safety of all New Yorkers. Now, as a truly unified agency, over one year since our merger, we also honor our fellow corrections and community supervision professionals who selflessly came to the aid of others, following the principals and training that have made them outstanding members of our Department. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. No one really knows how we might react to situations we find ourselves in. There is, however, one thing that we can know and depend upon: there is strength among us, so long as we all stand together as one. And together we will maintain our commitment to operate the best correctional and community supervision system in the country."

The annual ceremony takes place at the Academy’s 50-acre Albany campus. Since 1984, the Department has awarded 110 medals of merit and 47 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, 6 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 Cuomo’s proclamation of June 10-16, 2012 as "Corrections and Community Supervision Employee Week" is also on display there.

Photographs from the ceremony will be available this afternoon by 5:00 p.m.: http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/12MemorialMedals/index.html