Good morning and welcome.
One day each year, we gather together here at the Empire State Plaza in Albany at this memorial site to honor our fallen parole and correction officers.
Since merging to become one agency responsible for the care, custody and control of New York’s incarcerated population, as well as for the supervision of formerly incarcerated individuals, we now combine the parole and corrections ceremonies into one day. It is fitting that we begin this day by remembering those who have gone before us.
This is an extremely important tradition at DOCCS. It serves as a solemn reminder of the danger that is always present. Today, as we honor our fallen, we too, are reminded that, what we do in this Department can be a matter of life and death.
The history of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty at DOCCS dates back more than a century. Forty-three men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice since 1861.
At this ceremony, we pause to honor those staff who were parole officers and correction officers. Rightly so, their names are inscribed on these Barre Stone granite memorials to ensure they are never forgotten. And just as their names are etched in stone, so too, are their memories etched in our hearts and minds.
Shortly, representatives from CSEA, Council 82, NYSCOPBA, PEF, and the Department will place wreaths at the memorials erected in memory of and to honor those, who have gone before us. We do this in sincere appreciation for their service and for their sacrifice.
Later this afternoon, after the Medals Ceremony, we will acknowledge each one of all of our 43 fallen during a Reading of the Memorial Roll.
On this special day, we are sure to experience a variety of emotions. For one, we will feel profound sadness for those members of DOCCS who lost their lives in the line of duty. But while they are gone, they will never be forgotten. We also grieve for their families who have paid such a steep price.
In addition to sorrow and grief, we are bound to feel a sense of gratitude that the number of fallen has not risen above 43 since 2011. That is truly a testament to the competence of the employees of this Department who are dedicated and well-trained professionals and who perform their responsibilities in an exemplary manner.
I’m sure we will also feel excitement at the Medals Ceremony this afternoon, as we recognize 12 staff for their selfless acts of heroism.
Too often, the service of our staff goes unnoticed and unacknowledged. But what they do is truly the lifeblood of our communities and our state, and they should be appropriately recognized and appreciated.
Lastly, I have no doubt that we will experience pride. As employees of DOCCS, nearly 30,000 in number statewide, we exemplify commitment and character. We serve as an example for the entire nation and, for that, we should all be proud.
Thank you for joining us this morning at this Memorial Ceremony. I look forward to seeing you this afternoon at the Medals Ceremony.