Westchester County Department of Correction Swears in 24 New Correction Officers
(White Plains, NY) – Last week, the Westchester County Department of Correction (WCDOC) held a formal graduation ceremony for 24 new correction officers.
The ceremony began with a call to order, opening prayer and a presentation of the colors by the Department’s Honor Guard, who entered the Westchester County Center Little Theater accompanied by bagpipers and drummers of the Westchester County Emerald Society.
County Executive George Latimer said: “One of the most important functions of County government is the safe running of a correctional facility. The individuals remanded into the custody of WCDOC have arrived there for many reasons and will look to our new correction officers as role models and mentors. A full commitment to their new professions and responsibilities will directly impact the men and women in their care and help them prepare for a successful return to their communities. My administration will continue to provide resources to support the advancement of our Corrections Department, its workforce and those remanded into their care and custody.”
Deputy Commissioner Michael Gerald welcomed attending dignitaries and graduating class family members. As Deputy Commissioner in charge of the training academy he said: “To support our new correction officers, the Department has enhanced the academy training curriculum and establish new internal tracking protocols. Some formal training enhancements include effective communications, more on-the-job scenario based training, debriefing modules, active shooter, and use of force and De-escalation procedures. A special thanks to the academy staff and instructors for a job well done and to our new correction officers for the tremendous effort they put forward to complete WCDOC training requirements.”
In addressing the recruits, Correction Commissioner Joseph K. Spano reinforced that the career as correction officers is one of the most challenging in all of law enforcement.
Spano stated: “I know from firsthand experience that the job of a correction officer is not easy and it will take time to adjust to a fast moving and complex environment. I also know that correction officers have one of the most important roles in criminal justice. Along with providing custody and supervision for incarcerated individuals, you have a significant role in their rehabilitation process. The extensive training you received over the last 12 weeks, combined with our continuing support will help you adjust to your new profession and safely carry out your daily responsibilities in a challenging environment.”
Commissioner Spano further noted that the Westchester Department of Correction is considered a national leader in the space, recognized for its robust rehabilitation program system and accreditation certifications through the American Correctional Association, the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare and the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
At the ceremony, Captain Patti Bhola of the Department’s Training Academy, detailed some of the unique correction officer training curriculum including implicit bias, secondary trauma, de-escalation of incidents, defensive tactics, crisis intervention and interaction with seriously mentally ill people. Prior to the close of the ceremony, she was joined by Training Unit Sergeants Kevin Johnson and Paul Lindert, and they presented awards to members of the graduating class who distinguished themselves during the academy, including the best student, the best conditioned recruit and for leadership skills.