Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Remarks by Commissioner Brian Fischer
Parole Memorial Ceremony
New York State Parole Officers Memorial
July 18, 2011

In thinking about coming here today, honoring those who lost their lives, and those who have proven themselves this year through personal dedication and effort, I was struck by a personal observation of the organization we all know as Parole.

We're all part of the new Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, but in reality, we're all still correction officers, parole officers, superintendents, regional directors, on so forth. Our particular titles are not important. What is important is how we conduct ourselves and the jobs we all do.

In the recent months I've had an opportunity to look at Parole from the inside and what impressed me, and deserves recognition, is the hard work and dedication that goes on every day. People know what they need to do, and they do it under very difficult circumstances.

Like those we honor today, everyone understands their particular role, and the work that has to get done, regardless of personal problems and potential dangers. What is missing too often is the recognition of those efforts. Today is when we publicly acknowledge that fact.

Staff in our facilities, regions, divisions, and bureaus need to be reminded that we all deal with the same offender. The man who creates a problem inside a prison is likely to be the same man who creates a problem in the community. Walking through a housing unit or yard is not so different from walking into a parolee's home or work area when we consider how easily things can go wrong at a moment's notice. How different is an officer supervising a unit or a counselor running a treatment group, from a Parole Officer helping an offender make it in the community. We all like a concerned yet strict parent. We want the best for the child, but we cannot live their lives. We have to support and sometimes discipline them with the hope that in the end, they will turn out okay.

We have far more similar roles than we have different roles, none as clear as when it comes to the potential danger and as we recognize today, the possibility of death while fulfilling our obligations.

While every group has their own definitions for valor and honor, there are some common themes that transcend them all - going beyond the norm, placing oneself in harm's way, and responding to a crisis with bravery. Today, we recognize those working in community supervision for their dedication.

Let's leave today with the knowledge that we are not alone and that we are all part of a larger system that has core responsibilities few people truly understand that we handle everyday with courage and professionalism. If outsiders forget to thank us, we need to stand together and do it for ourselves.

Thank you.