CORRECTIONS USA PRESENTS ANNUAL ‘VALOR AWARDS’ TO CORRECTION OFFICERS FROM AROUND THE NATION WHO DISPLAYED EXEMPLARY ACTS OF BRAVERY
2022 Awards Winners:
LAS VEGAS, NEV. (FEB. 15, 2022) – Corrections USA (CUSA), a non-profit national advocacy organization, representing thousands of Correction Officers from across the nation, will honor twenty-two Correction Officers with the “CUSA Valor Award” at the annual CUSA Awards Gala to be held on February 16, 2022 at Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel. Among this year’s award recipients are two Correction Officers from Nevada, who helped save lives and protected the public. Joining them are honorees representing the states of California, Florida, Washington State, Indiana, New York, and New Jersey. This year’s keynote speaker will be Sheriff Errol Toulon from Suffolk County, New York. North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee is also expected to deliver remarks at the gala.
"Every year, Corrections USA pays tribute to the country's boldest Correction Officers, who displayed exemplary bravery both on and off duty," said Corrections USA Chairman Jimmy Baiardi, who is also the head of the State Corrections Chapter of the Florida PBA. “The valor displayed by this year's twenty-two outstanding honorees serves as a shining example of the essential services performed by Correction Officers in cities and states all across the country. They will never receive the full recognition they deserve for their part in keeping our communities safe, so our annual awards gala is a particularly meaningful recognition of their dedication and commitment to public safety.”
Listed Below Are the 2022 Corrections USA Valor and Image Award Recipients:
Correctional Sergeant James Wood, Stewart Conservation Camp, Nevada, Medal of Valor
In April 2021, Stewart Conservation Camp was notified by staff members of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center that a sighting of a possible escaped inmate occurred approximately one mile from Steward Conservation Camp. The Camp immediately went into lockdown and after a headcount count, it was discovered that an offender was missing. Escape notifications and procedures were initiated and search teams from the Camp and the Northern Nevada Correctional Center were dispatched. The escaped offender was spotted running from custody. Sgt. James Wood and his partner pursued and caught up with the fleeing offender. Sgt Wood gave multiple verbal commands to stop, to get on the ground and to submit to restraints. All of his orders were ignored. Knowing the escaped offender was a public safety risk, Sgt. Wood and his partner drew their side arms and repeated commands to submit to restraints. The escaped offender still refused to comply and repeatedly screamed “shoot me!” While the escaped offender kept screaming, bystanders who gathered around were recording a video of the incident. With a cool head and the patience of an experienced correctional leader, Sgt. Wood was able to reason with the escaped offender to overcome his fears of returning to custody and the offender finally submitted to restraints without further incident. In the finest tradition of professionalism, Sgt. Wood exemplified the composure and the calm demeanor necessary to deescalate the situation avoiding force.
Correctional Officer Jarisse McCraney, Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center, Nevada, Medal of Valor
In June 2021, an assault erupted between two inmates in a segregation unit, while inmate showers were being conducted. An inmate climbed under her shower stall into another stall and began assaulting the other inmate in the adjoining stall. The supervising officer was relatively new to the job and she immediately radioed for assistance. Officer Jarisse McCraney was in the vicinity and responded quickly. Officer McCraney recognized the seriousness of the situation and radioed for additional assistance. Taking control, Officer McCraney began giving verbal commands to the inmates to stop. One inmate began to violently assault the other inmate to the point where the inmate passed out. Without any regard for her own safety, Officer McCraney grabbed hold of the assaultive inmate and began pulling her off the victim, continuing to give verbal commands for the aggressor to stop. Using all her strength, Officer McCraney eventually was able to subdue the assaultive inmate. With the assistance of responding officers, they pulled the assaultive inmate out of the shower and restrained her. Officer McCraney sustained a knee injury from the incident. Officer Jarisse McCraney is also a dual Citizen-Soldier as she simultaneously serves both the Nevada Department of Corrections and the United States Army Reserves. Officer McCraney’s quick thinking and selfless actions saved a life and kept other Officers from being injured. Officer McCraney is currently deployed in Iraq.
Correctional Officer Earl Cooper, California State Prison Solano California, Medal of Valor
In October 2020, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) was led on a high-speed chase along Interstate 80 by a fleeing suspect. The suspect drove his vehicle into a tree. The vehicle caught on fire and the suspect refused to get out of his vehicle. Officer Earl Cooper was in the vicinity when he saw the Highway Patrol officer fighting with the suspect to get him out of the burning vehicle. Officer Cooper ran to the aid of the Highway Patrol officer and removed the suspect from his vehicle. The Highway Patrol officer noted he wouldn’t have been able to save the suspect’s life without Officer Cooper. Officer Cooper likely saved the life of the Highway Patrol officer as well. Officer Cooper acted out of bravery under unusual circumstances while displaying courage in the face of potential peril while saving the life of another.
Correctional Officer Cody Greer, California Medical Facility, Medal of Valor
In July 2020, Officer Greer and his friends were fishing in the San Francisco Bay when three men capsized their boat in the nearby vicinity. Officer Greer immediately took action, navigating his boat to the capsized boat. One of Officer Greer’s friends steered the boat while Greer pulled each of the capsized men into his boat. The U.S. Coast Guard was called, and the three capsized men were then transferred from Officer Greer’s boat to the U.S. Coast Guard. It is clear, Officer Greer used his critical training experience to save three men’s lives without placing himself in peril.
Correctional Sergeant William Eberly, San Quentin California, Medal of Valor
In September 2020, Sgt. William Eberly left work and came across a three-vehicle accident before any emergency services had responded. Sgt. Eberly went over to one of the vehicles and found a young woman, unresponsive with a large laceration on her head. His professional training took over and he ran back to his car to get gloves, a CPR mask and a diaper to help stop the young woman’s bleeding. Sgt. Eberly told one of the ambulatory accident victims to call 911 and request an ambulance. Sgt. Eberly climbed into the car to render aid. While giving aid, the young woman’s phone rang and it was the accident victim’s mother. Sgt. Eberly explained to the young woman’s mother what had happened. Sgt. Eberly held the head up of the young woman so she could continue to breathe. He held her head and rendered aid for almost 30 minutes util emergency services could intervene. The young woman’s injuries were so severe that she was rushed to the hospital by air ambulance. The young woman’s family calls Sgt. William Eberly their hero.
Correctional Officer Mark Jones, High Desert State Prison California, Image Award
In March 2021, Correctional Officer Mark Jones was named the 2021 Firefighter of the Year for the City of Susanville, CA. Officer Jones has worked for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) since 2001. He began his volunteer firefighting in 2018. With so many areas of the mountainous west at an all-time risk for wildland fire, it is not surprising Officer Jones was called to work the Zogg Fire 9/2020, Sheep Fire 8/2020, Hog Fire 7/2020, and Gomez Fire 5/2019. As a volunteer firefighter, Officer Jones has responded to many late night and early morning phone calls for assistance and help. Officer Jones’ professionalism and dedication to public safety on the job and to his community is commendable.
Correctional Sergeant Vanessa Melendez, San Quentin/NSC Main Office California, Image Award
For more than 100 years, The Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization has worked to provide role models for less fortunate children. Sgt. Vanessa Melendez began her service to the community by getting involved in the “Bigs with Badges” program. The “Bigs with Badges” program matches many sheriff departments and police departments throughout California in addition to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) with at-risk children. Sgt. Melendez, who has worked for CDCR since 2013, feels she was an “at risk” child herself and can relate to the mentoring of “Bigs with Badges” because of her own opportunity to be mentored in a Police Explorers program. Big Brothers and Big Sisters estimates 25% of the children in their programs have at least one parent that is incarcerated. “Bigs with Badges” strives to mentor youth to keep them away from generational incarceration. In May 2021, Sgt. Vanessa Melendez was selected as “Big Sister of the Year.” With Sgt Melendez’ compassion and caring charisma, she has directly impacted her community and improved the lives of others in the most meaningful way.
Deputy Sheriff Nakishaw Zambrana, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Florida, Medal of Valor
In February 2020, The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department received multiple 911 calls about a domestic battery in progress in the Winn Dixie parking lot in the City of Belle Glade. Within a few minutes of the first 911 call, a deputy sheriff responded and witnessed the suspect actively battering the victim. The Deputy followed protocol and ordered the suspect to stop, but instead he punched the victim in the face. The deputy moved in and attempted to use an Electronic Control Device (ECD) to control the suspect but was thwarted when the suspect tried to take the ECD away. As this was taking place, off duty Deputy Sheriff Nakishaw Zambrana was in the vicinity and saw what was happening. Deputy Zambrana ran to the scene, identified herself and her intention to control the suspect. Working together, they were able to finally gain control of the suspect. Deputy Zambrana never hesitated. using her training and professionalism. According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, “Deputy Zambrana’s courage, dedication and willingness to “engage” exemplifies a selfless spirit and the caring character of a person who puts the safety of others before her own.”
Correctional Officer Patrick Graba, Nassau County Correctional Center, NY, Medal of Valor
In September 2019, Atlantic Steamer Fire Company No 1, an all-volunteer fire department, was activated for mutual aid to the Bayville Fire Department for a water rescue. It was reported that two jet skiers were trapped due to the receding tide. It was quickly determined that the utilization of boats was not an option due to low tide. Correctional Officer Patrick Graba who is also a Volunteer Firefighter, devised and implemented a plan to employ a long-haul ice water rescue sled tethered to several hundred feet of rescue line. Officer Graba in his capacity as a volunteer firefighter, face down on the sled, propelled himself with his hands, made his way through the thick mud to the stranded jet skiers. Officer Graba saw the jet skiers had left the jet skis and now were neck deep in the mud of the marsh. Racing against the rising tide and realizing the more the stranded jet skiers moved, they were getting deeper and deeper in the mud. Officer Graba requested immediate assistance from the NYPD Aviation Unit. Officer Graba worked with the NYPD rescue diving team configuring the rescue sled as a support platform while a winch system was used to extract both jet skiers from the mud. Both jet skiers were transported to a local hospital by the aviation unit. Due to the many trips and fuel shortage of the aviation unit, Officer Graba had to remain at the scene until the tide returned enough to allow the Bayville Fire Department Boating Unit to reach him. Correctional Officer and Volunteer Firefighter Graba’s quick thinking and selfless bravery demonstrated exceptional valor in preventing the deaths of two people.
Correctional Officer Shannon Fulford, Robert N Davoren Complex, Rikers Island, NYC, Medal of Valor
In November of 2021, Correction Officer Shannon Fulford was off duty on the William Floyd Parkway and was stopped at a roadblock. While stopped, a drunk driver ran directly into his truck. Officer Fulford was hit so hard that the driver’s side door wouldn’t open. Officer Fulford had to exit through a side window. Once out of the truck, Officer Fulford noticed a Suffolk County Deputy face down under his truck’s driver side tire. Using his training, Officer Fulford exercised his EMT training. The Deputy was not responsive but still breathing. Officer Fulford checked the Deputy’s body for a broken back or neck. He then pulled the Deputy out from under his truck. The Deputy was covered with blood. Officer Fulford called 911 and ran down the road to the next light to inform the other Deputies of what had happened. The injured Deputy was airlifted to the hospital for life saving medical treatment. Without the quick thinking and training of Officer Fulford, a Suffolk County Deputy may not have survived.
Correctional Officer Shanell Harris, George R. Vierno Center Rikers Island, NYC, Medal of Valor
In October 2020, Correction Officer Shannell Harris was working to separate a gang melee that had erupted in a housing area of her facility. In the middle of the melee, she was seriously assaulted when she was stabbed in the left hand by an inmate. Officer Harris’ instincts and training allowed her to still perform her duties to take control of the situation, securing the inmates to prevent any further injuries to the inmates or any other officers. Officer Harris bravery, despite sustaining a serious injury to herself exemplifies the courage and professionalism of correction officers.
Correctional Officer Juan Carlos Adames, Westchester County Jail, NY, Medal of Valor
In April 2021, off duty Correctional Officer Juan Carlos Adames was in Brooklyn. While parking his car, a woman in a panic approached him, pointing at her daughter on the ledge of a high-rise building. The mother was terrified her daughter would fall and was begging for help. Officer Adames’ immediate reaction was to run up the eight flights of stairs because it was faster than the elevator. When he got to the roof of the large building, Officer Adames had trouble finding the girl. When Officer Adames did find her, he was able to lean over to the ledge and hug her. There was a metal fence that she had to climb to reach the ledge. Officer Adames didn’t want to further risk the girl’s safety trying to pull her to safety alone. Officer Adames called 911 and explained the situation and that she had apparently dared to go over the fence and get to the ledge by her friends. Officer Adames asked the friends to go down to the seventh floor to see if they could find another adult to help him get the girl from the ledge and over the fence safely. A NYC police officer, a FDNY EMT arrived and together with Officer Adames, they were able to bring the girl from the high-rise ledge to safety. The girl’s mother was very emotional and very thankful. It is because of Officer Adames’ training and quick thinking that a young girl is safe from an incident that could have ended tragically.
Correctional Officer Jason Silcox, Florida Department of Corrections, Medal of Valor
Officer Jason Silcox was in the middle of his shift at his facility, searching an area for contraband when an inmate suddenly attacked Officer Silcox. It is believed Officer Silcox was closing in on hidden items in his contraband search. Officer Silcox was hospitalized from his stab wounds and other injuries. A year after his attack, Officer Silcox is still recovering from his attack and is hoping to return to work after all his medical treatments are treated. Officer Silcox demonstrated bravery on the job and his friends and colleagues are praying for his full recovery.
Correctional Lieutenant Dennis Koen, Indiana State Prison, Michigan City, Indiana, Medal of Valor
In February 2021, while being escorted to the shower, an inmate held in an Indiana State Prison was able to slip out of his cuffs and grab shanks he had hidden in the shower area. He pushed the officer who was escorting him aside and ran down the stairwell toward other uniformed staff. The offender then ran into a who pulled his O/C and emptied it as he sprayed the offender while he was stabbing him with his shanks. The offender then ran into a Lieutenant, stabbing him and causing fatal wounds. At that time, Lt. Dennis Koen heard the Signal 10 over the radio and responded to the scene by busting through the front door of the cell house, immediately seeing the offender. Lt. Koen tackled the offender to the floor, knocking the shanks to the floor. Lt. Koen subdued the offender by placing him in cuffs, ending the tragic scene that day at Indiana State Prison and without a doubt, saved further prevented other officers from being killed. Lt. Koen’s life-saving actions were absolutely heroic.
Sheriff Sergeant Adam Gonzalez-McFetridge, Island County Sheriff’s Office, State of Washington, Image Award
In January 2020, the professionalism of Sgt Adam Gonzalez-McFetridge who was at that time employed by the Uintah County Sheriff in Utah, was recognized by the National Jail Leadership Command Academy. Sgt. Gonzalez-McFetridge earned his Certified Jail Manager (CJM) from the American Jail Association (AJA) through the Jail Manager Certification Commission (JMCC). Sgt Gonzalez-McFetridge was the only former deputy in the State of Utah to be awarded this distinction. In addition, Sgt. Gonzalez-McFetridge was recently chosen by the NJLCA Advisory Committee to attend the National Jail Leadership Command Academy in Houston, Texas.
Correctional Officer Corey Forbes, Vice President NJ PBA 105, NJ, Medal of Valor
In August 2021, Correctional Officer Corey Forbes was out on his boat when he noticed another vessel on the water with smoke pouring out of its engine. He immediately sped toward the scene as the other boat became engulfed in flames. Officer Forbes could see several people forced into the water to escape the burning boat. Officer Forbes was able to pull two of the boaters and their dog safely into his boat and get them to safety. Firefighters were called to assist the boat on fire. All the other occupants of the boat were safely off the boat and there were no injuries thanks to Officer Forbes’ intervention. Officer Forbes true character was illustrated by his split-second decisions. PBA 105’s Union President William Sullivan said, “Officer Forbes sped into danger with a higher regard for the safety of others, than himself. His bravery should inspire all of us”.
Correctional Police Officer Joseph Michals, Atlantic County Youth Detention Center, NJ, Medal of Valor
In May 2021, Correctional Police Officer Joseph Michals was driving home from work on the Garden State Parkway. He came across a serious vehicle accident with one of the vehicles landing off the highway and in the trees. Officer Michals approached and immediately called 911. The driver’s side door was too damaged to open. From the passenger side, Officer Michals recognized the driver as a fellow Correctional Police Officer from the Atlantic County Youth Detention Center. She sustained multiple injuries from the accident. Officer Michals retrieved a clean shirt from his vehicle to stop the bleeding and continued to perform first aid as emergency services arrived on the scene. The driver was taken immediately to the hospital to be treated for her serious injuries. PBA 105 Union President William Sullivan said, “Officer Michals’ quick thinking and heroic action saved the life of a fellow officer.”
Correctional Police Officer Chad Ammerman, New Jersey, Medal of Valor
In June 2021, an 82-year-old man was left floating in open water after his boat sank off the Jersey Shore. The tide carried the man far away from shore for a period of three hours before his cries were heard by a resident fishing along the coast. The resident searched for help before alerting off duty Correctional Police Officer Chad Ammerman, who immediately called 911. Emergency personnel had been searching the waters around where the boat sank, but the 82-year-old man was too far away from the wreckage. Officer Ammerman knew time was short, so he emptied a cooler onto the beach and swam over 300 yards toward the man, constantly looking back at shore for hand signals for directions to guide him through the waves toward the man in need of rescue. When Officer Ammerman reached the man, he had the man hold onto the cooler and dragged the man and the cooler back to just shy of 40 yards from the shore before a boat came by to help. PBA 105 Union President William Sullivan said of Officer Ammerman, “He risked his life to save another’s, the true definition of a hero.”
Investigator David Dias and Investigator Sonja Salerno, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, NY, Valor Awards
Investigators David Dias and Sonja Salerno work for the Internal Security Unit (ISU) of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. The ISU conducted numerous investigations uncovering dangerous weapons, illegal drugs including Fentanyl, and various crimes including assault and extortion within the Correctional Facilities of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators Dias and Salerno were integral to various investigations partnering with fellow law enforcement agencies. These investigations resulted in preventing and terminating crimes and dangerous situations occurring within the correctional facility as well as the surrounding community. Investigators Dias and Salerno have utilized intelligence gathering information to prevent and confiscate illicit items throughout the year assisting or investigating: 124 incidents of drugs/narcotics, 29 incidents of tobacco recovery, 27 incidents of weapon recovery, and 95 incidents of recovered ancillary contraband seizures. Investigators Dias and Salerno have exhibited professionalism, dedication and an unyielding commitment to making our jails safer and ensuring a safer community.
Investigator Robert Lettieri and Investigator Michael Mancuso, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, NY, Valor Awards
Investigators Robert Lettieri and Michael Mancuso work for the Gang Intelligence Unit (GIU) of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. The GIU’s primary focus is to gather the most current and accurate intelligence on gang activities. The intelligence information is documented and used as a tool to provide a safe working environment for officers and staff, other detainees, and the community. Numerous investigations began with information gained from detainees or extended gang activity within the correctional facility. Investigators Lettteri and Mancuso were able to overcome many obstacles in 2021 including the pandemic and the continuation of bail reform. The GIU dealt with housing/classification difficulties by focusing on increased information sharing between both facilities GIU and Classification Units. This allowed Investigators Letteri and Mancuso to complete investigations despite the unpredictable mass movement of detainees quarantined due to covis-19. Investigators Lettieri and Mancuso played a major role in conducting 1,242 interviews resulting in the identification of 147 gang member affiliations, in addition to criminal identifications for outside agencies. In aggregate, Investigators Lettieri and Mancuso have been and continue to be integral for the safety within our facilities and the public at large.
CUSA, which has 85,000 members nationwide, was the first organization to give Valor Awards to professional public-sector Correction Officers and to recognize some of the brave men and women who patrol the toughest beats in law enforcement. CUSA has bestowed more than 450 Valor Awards over 20 years.
2016 Corrections USA Medal of Valor Winners:
Officer Keith Diakow and Lieutenant Keith Wilson nominated by Ron Neal, Superintendent, Indiana Department of Corrections.
On March 31, 2016 an offender who was recently terminated from the facility's laundry at Indiana State Prison, exited his housing unit making his way back to the laundry. The offender had obtained a pair of scissors, broke them in half and taped a blade to each hand. The offender attacked a Lt. Wilson and stabbed him several times. Officer Diakow immediately responded, sprayed the offender with OC. The offender stopped attacking Lt. Wilson and then turned on Officer Diakow, stabbing him twice during the altercation. Lt. Wilson was able to gain his composure and helped to restrain the offender until first responders arrived on the scene. He is a hero. Award Officer Keith Diakow with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Kenneth Bettis, 44 years old, Alabama Department of Corrections, killed in the line of duty.
Officer Bettis was stabbed to death by an inmate in the dining hall of Atmore's William C. Holman Correctional Facility on September 1, 2016. He worked for the department 7 years and was a veteran of the Alabama Army National Guard. Award Officer Kenneth Bettis with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Lisa Mauldin, 47 years old, Miller County Sheriff's Office, Arkansas.
Officer Mauldin was attacked inside the kitchen of the Miller County jail, she died as a result of her injuries on Sunday December 18, 2016. Award Lisa Mauldin with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Adam Conrad, 22 years old, Marion County Sheriff's Office, Illinois.
Officer Conrad was killed in a motor vehicle crash on Interstate 57 on January 20, 2016. Officer Conrad was conducting a prisoner transport for court appointment when he lost control of the transport van on the snow and icy road. He worked for the department for a year and a half. Officer Conrad is survived by his parents and a brother. Award Officer Adam Conrad with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Kristopher D. Moules, 25 years old, Luzerne County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania.
Officer Moules and an inmate got into an altercation on the fifth floor of the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. The two slammed into a closed elevator door. It opened and they Officer Moules and the inmate fell to their deaths on July 19, 2016. He worked for the department 10 months. Award Officer Kristopher Moules with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Mari Johnson, 55 years old, Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Officer Johnson was attacked by an inmate in the kitchen storage area of the French Robertson Unit. She was found unresponsive and pronounced dead on July 16, 2016. She worked for the department for seven years. Award Officer Mari Johnson with the Medal of Valor.
Senior Corrections Officer Garret Faryna, New Jersey Department of Corrections Garden State Youth Correctional Facility nominated by Ray Heck.
On April 1, 2016, Senior Corrections Officer Faryna was assigned the task of observing early mess movements. An inmate approached Senior Corrections Officer Faryna and without provocation, hit Officer Faryna in the face with a closed fist. Defenseless due to being blindsided, Officer Faryna fell to the ground striking his head on the concrete floor. He lost consciousness and sustained a severe head injury. This cowardly act by an inmate caused Officer Faryna a lengthy hospital stay and ongoing rehabilitation. As a true hero, Garret Faryna getting stronger everyday and continues to strive toward full recovery. Award Officer Garret Faryna with the Medal of Valor.
Senior Corrections Officer Christopher Platt, New Jersey Department of Corrections, Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility nominated by Ray Heck.
On April 9, 2016, Senior Corrections Officer Christopher Platt was coming to assist a fellow Officer who was dealing with an unruly inmate. The inmate refused to comply with an order to be pat frisked and walked away. Officer Platt ordered the inmate back to the area. A fellow Officer tried to restrain the inmate when he immediately turned around and without provocation punched Officer Platt in the face. The assault caused severe injury to Officer Platt's face and required surgery. In the true test of courage, Officer Platt has fought to regain full function and has recently been able to return to work. Award Senior Corrections Officer Christopher Platt with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Jeff Keafer nominated by Robert Grajeda of PSCOA. Officer Jeff Keafer of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections SCI Somerset.
On February 29, 2016, Officer Jeff Keafer was driving to work when he drove past the scene where a police officer was pulled into a car window by an assailant. Officer Keafer turned his car around. The police officer was attempting to arrest the assailant and couldn't reach his handcuffs to secure him. That's when Keafer stopped to assist the Police Officer. Somerset Borough Scott Walker said of Keafer, " This gentleman walked into danger to see what he could do to help". Officer Keafer is a true hero who prevented a disastrous situation. Award Officer Jeff Keafer with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Albert Rummell nominated Robert Grajeda of PSCOA. Officer Albert Rummell of the Pennsylvania Department of corrections SCI Somerset.
On June 23, 2014 was driving home after his shift when he witnessed a tree fall on a vehicle in the other lane. The impact of the fallen tree forced the car across the lane and into a telephone pole. Officer Rummell immediately called 911 and informed the dispatch of the multiple injuries accident with the male driver being unresponsive. A woman pregnant was out of the vehicle screaming for her children. Rummell noticed several young children in the back. There were two girls trying to get out of the back seat and one girl lying hunched over. Officer Rummell was able to reach and pull the 3 year old girl out of the car and carried her to a nearby ambulance. Another motorist was able to reach another one of the girls. Officer Rummell learned from the emergency responders that two of the girls in the back seat had died from injuries from the accident. Officer Rummell attended the funeral services and has continued to stay in contact with the family. Rummell went on to help raise $15,000 for the family. Officer Rummell sets the standard for a hero. Award Officer Albert Rummell with the Medal of Valor.
Officer Brent LaBeau nominated by Tim Filson Nevada Department of Corrections.
On August 16, 2016 Officer Brent LaBeau was seriously assaulted by inmates at the Ely Minimum Custody Conservation Camp. Two inmates were throwing contraband over the fence and it was intercepted by Officer LaBeau. Several inmates attacked LaBeau and wrestled him to the ground. The inmates continued to hit and kick him. Officer LaBeau suffered several broken bones and had other major injuries. He fully recovered and returned to work. Officer Brent LaBeau put himself in harms way to prevent contraband from entering the facility. He is a hero. Award Officer Brent LaBeau with the Medal of Valor.
Corrections USA Chairman's Award:
Oakland County Sheriff's Office - Correction's Division, Michigan
- Deputy Daniel Drwencke
- Lieutenant Thomas Vida
- Deputy Chad Acheson
- Deputy Brian Elliott
- Deputy Brandon Hall
- Deputy Stephen Pryde
On June 27, 2016, while working in the jail, Deputy Daniel Drwencke entered an inmate housing unit and discovered Deputy Stephen Grandetti unresponsive with a yellowish gray appearance and not breathing with a faint pulse. Deputy Drwencke immediately called out for assistance. Deputies Stephen Pryde, Brian Elliot, Brandon Hall, Chad Acheson and Lt. Vida assisted with moving Deputy Grandetti to the floor to begin CPR. The AED machine was properly applied and provided three shocks. The deputies along with the jail clinic staff continued CPR and using the AED for the next ten minutes. Deputy Grandetti was transported to a local hospital where he was placed in ICU in serious condition and hospitalized for an extended period of time. Deputy Grandetti is still off work but is expected to make a full recovery. Doctor's indicated that quick action and professional training were critical in saving Deputy Grandetti's life. Having each other's back in the work place! Award Deputy Daniel Drwencke, Lieutenant Thomas Vida, Deputy Chad Acheson, Deputy Brian Elliott, Deputy Brandon Hall and Deputy Stephen Pryde with the Chairman's award.
Lieutenant Edward O'Hara New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, Juvenile Medium North, nominated by Les Robinson.
On Wednesday October 26, 2016 Lt Edward O'Hara was traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike and saw a car overturned in the grass embankment with an occupant inside. Lt O'Hara immediately pulled over and dialed 911. He approached the vehicle and noticed a fire starting in the engine compartment. O'Hara worked to force the driver's side door open and pulled the driver out. O'Hara continued to monitor the driver till EMS arrived. Within seconds of removing the driver, the vehicle was engulfed in flames. Fire Department personnel on the scene said the actions of Lt Edward O'Hara saved the driver from almost certain death. Lt Edward O'Hara is a hero. Award Lt Edward O'Hara with the Chairman's Award.
Officer Lonnie Watson, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Pleasant Valley State Prison, nominated by Catherine Griffin and Janice Watson.
Officer Lonnie Watson was driving to work and came across a horrific accident involving a semi-truck and that collided with a van of workers. The accident required major extrication and extensive medical assistance. Officer Watson took the initiative and approached the scene to offer his assistance. Watson immediately called 911. He ran to assist the truck driver attempting to crawl out of the cab of his truck. The Cal Fire San Luis Obispo County Fire Department Fire Captain, Jesse Ryan, utilized Watson to carry traumatic accident victims to a treatment area to be air lifted to trauma centers. Watson also held up the entire weight of the van's roof as the fire department extricated 3 accident victims that were severely trapped. Fire Captain Jesse Ryan said of Officer Watson, "Due to the number of accident victims and limited fire personnel at the scene, we would have not been successful in extricating accident victims without Officer Watson's help. It takes special characteristics to perform in adverse traumatic conditions and Officer Watson possesses profound characteristics of a public servant". Officer Lonnie Watson is a hero. Award Officer Lonnie Watson with the Chairman's Award.
Corrections USA Image Award:
Officer Dawn Hershberger, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Correctional Center nominated by Aaron Yderraga and Suzanne Peery.
Officer Dawn Hershberger when off duty is a spokesperson for "Courage Worldwide". Courage Worldwide is a national organization combatting the horrors of child sex trafficking. Officer Hershberger has been the central component in the development and delivery of humanitarian services to children in need throughout California and the country. Officer Hershberger's tireless work led to an invitation to the State Capitol where she was a guest speaker for the "Not in my City, Not in my State" campaign on behalf of Courage Worldwide to bring attention to child sex trafficking. Hershberger also played an intricate role in the organization of the 1st annual Courage Worldwide Triathlon held in Lake Alamanor California in August 2015. The event generated $12,900 in donations. The 2016 event doubled in size and raised over $26,000. Officer Dawn Hershberger constantly demonstrates enthusiasm and willingness to go above and beyond her required duties. Award Officer Dawn Hershberger with the Image Award.
Sergeant Beth Westrich, New Jersey Department of Corrections, Adult Diagnostic Treatment Center, nominated by William Toolen, President NJLESA.
Sgt Beth Westrich has dedicated much of her off duty time to the Special Olympics. The recent Special Olympics Summer Games served as a fitting showcase for some 2500 athletes to display some exemplary physical talent and even more, resilience. Plenty of hard work is involved in planning, organizing and making sure all athgletes have a positive experience at the games. Sgt Westrich is at the forefront of the competition's logistics. The soft spoken Sergeant views the undertaking as a labor of love. She says the athletes' reactions to meeting law enforcement personnel at the Summer Games last June 10-12, 2016, makes it all worthwhile. She estimated some 30 New Jersey Department of Corrections Officers were on the field volunteering at the last Special Olympics. Sgt Westrich said, "We were the most represented law enforcement agency there!". Sgt Beth Westrich has worked with Special Olympics for more than 3 decades going back to her former career as a physical therapist. Award Sgt Beth Westrich with Image Award.
Corrections USA Life Saving Award:
Sergeant Antonio Costeira, New Jersey Department of Corrections, Adult Diagnostic Treatment Center, Nominated by William Toolen, NJLESA.
On August 19, 2016, Sgt Antonio Costerlia, was on the scene where two NJ Transit buses collided. Passengers were trapped in one of the buses after it was broadsided. In the midst of total chaos, Sgt. Costeira climbed through the windows to help the wounded and pull the injured from the twisted wreckage. Sgt. Costeira noticed some of the passengers were seriously injured with mangled limbs. One of the bus drivers was pronounced dead at the scene. Nineteen people including the other bus driver were injured. Sgt Costeira is a hero. Award Sgt Antonio Costeira with the Corrections USA Life Saver Award.
Corrections USA Civilian of the Year:
Fred Bird, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Correctional Plant Supervisor/Plumber, California Correctional Center nominated by Suzanne Peery.
On August 5, 2016, Fred Bird, was driving in Janesville, CA. He noticed a suspicious male walking on the side of the road. After he passed, Fred observed the suspicious male in his rear view mirror-he the male get into a vehicle that belonged to a an acquaintance. Bird stopped and backed up, as he got to the vehicle, the suspicious male took off and ran into the home of the acquaintance. Bird ran to the back of the house expecting the suspicious male would run out of the back of the house. As Bird ran along side of the house, he heard the female homeowner screaming. Bird entered through the back door. The suspicious male grabbed a mug and began threating Bird and the homeowner. Bird chased the male to the front door. The male spun around swinging the mug. Bird tackled him, causing Bird and the male to go over the front railing of the porch. Bird subdued the male using submission type holds, while the homeowner and neighbors called 911. Lassen County Sheriff's Department deputies arrived and took the male into custody. Fred Bird is a Hero. Award Fred Bird the Corrections USA Civilian of the Year Award.