Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Remarks by Commissioner Brian Fischer
Parole Memorial Ceremony
New York State Parole Officers Memorial
July 16, 2012

It’s been 15 months since our two former agencies have come together and in that time I have come to understand and respect the work of parole staff more and more each month.

Everyday I see what has been asked of parole staff, both inside the prison and even more out in the oftentimes chaotic and dangerous community.

While our workload is heavy, the physical and mental requirements of the jobs are even heavier. The unexpected has almost become the expected, and staff has responded with professionalism and concern for one another.

You have heard me say this before, few people outside our agency realize all the policies, procedures, laws and regulations that have to be clearly understood and followed. Even fewer people know the perils of the work, or the consequences of each and every decision we make.

That is why this memorial and awards ceremony is so important. We know the job, with all its up and downs. We’re here to provide special recognition to those named in the memorial and to those whose personal efforts and accomplishments stood out from the crowd this past year.

There is a third group we need to recognize today, the 60 men and women from our ranks who are currently serving in the five branches of the military, almost all overseas.

On the wall behind me are 7 plaques recognizing Parole Officers who lost their lives while on duty. The first, Barry Sutherland, was killed in 1976. The last, Jeffery Woodson, died in 2009. Let’s hope we never have to add another plaque to the wall.

Let me paraphrase a part of Governor Cuomo’s proclamation, “they made a significant difference in the lives of countless at-risk offenders through their supervision, guidance and role modeling.”

This morning, eight current employees will be honored for the work they performed last year. What they brought to the agency, and those we’re accountable for, deserve our attention and our respect.

Whether we call our program Community Supervision or Parole makes no difference. Our people have a long and honorable history. For decades we have helped the formally incarcerated make new beginnings and when necessary, acting in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, moved to provide for community public safety.

Least we all forget the nature of our job, let today’s memorial service remind us to make safety our primary concern and remember that on May 18, 2012, a probation/parole officer by the name of Jeffery McCoy working in Oklahoma was killed while conducting a home visit.

We must continue to remember those who gave their lives for the State of New York and do what we can to honor them by continuing the work they started. Doing our best as we move forward should be our way of recognizing their sacrifice.

Thank you.