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Fallen parole officers remembered; PEF POs receive Medal of Honor for extraordinary courage, bravery

Parole-memorial-service-950x375By KATE MOSTACCIO

A steady drizzle came down June 13 as PEF parole officers and state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) leaders gathered at the New York State Parole Officers Memorial and the New York State Corrections Officers Memorial behind the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

A row of memorial wreaths were lined up in the grass in front of the memorials as those gathered paid tribute to the men and women who lost their lives on the job — a total of 43 heroes who have died in the line of duty since 1861.

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Parole Officer and Division 236 Council Leader Victor “Tony” Perez and Parole Officer and Division 236 Steward Joe Carey laid the PEF wreath at the base of the parole memorial.

“It’s a longstanding tradition to memorialize and remember the parole officers who were killed in the line of duty,” Perez said, whether they were responding to calls, doing visits, or in the case of two POs — Barry Sutherland and Brian Rooney — shot and killed. “It’s a reminder that we have careers that are considered dangerous and sometimes deadly.”

Following the somber ceremony, many of the attendees made their way to the DOCCS Training Academy on New Scotland Road. Here, the memorial for fallen officers continued and all 43 names were read aloud. “It’s important for all of us to remember officers have died in service, doing this job,” Perez said. “It’s a stark reminder of the dangers of the job.”

POs help locate, aid in conviction of shooter

In addition to remembering the fallen, 12 DOCCS employees were honored for “actions [that] made a difference in the lives of people in the communities we protect,” according to the ceremony program. Six received the Medal of Honor and six received the Medal of Merit.

DOCCS awards the Medal of Honor to those whose actions in the line of duty “evidence an extraordinary degree of courage, bravery or heroism.” Among the 2019 recipients were PEF parole officers Ingrid Cannonier and Maxelliot Correa, both from the Bronx region.

“One of the parole officers came into my office and said, ‘Did you hear what happened in Manhattan?,’” Perez recalled of the day he learned about the incident.

Cannonier and Correa were working with Office of Special Investigations Assistant Deputy Chief Investigator Richard Hotaling and Investigator Lance C. Crossett to capture parole absconders in Manhattan when they observed and recorded an unrelated dispute between two groups of males. One male displayed a handgun and fired, striking two other males.

The officers identified themselves as law enforcement, pursued the shooter, and ordered the suspect to stop. He ignored their orders and fled into a housing complex. “The parole officers radioed NYPD and told them shots fired,” Perez said. “NYPD responded quickly. With the help of other officers of our department and NYPD, they did a search and found the suspect.”

The video recording and testimony of the parole officers and investigators aided in the suspect’s conviction, obtained by the District Attorney’s Office.

Humbled, glad to be recognized

For Correa, who just came off probation after two years with the parole department, receiving this honor is humbling. “It’s an amazing honor,” he said. “For me personally, I was a little taken aback by the whole thing. I did my job and I did it to the best of my ability. My actions, I believe anybody else in my position would have done. I don’t think we get recognized enough for the work that we do. I’m very humbled.”

He credits his training and life experiences for preparing him for the situation, as well as his fellow officers. “I had three really good, really professional people with me that helped me come home.

“We do dangerous things every day,” Correa said. “We don’t think of it as dangerous and we don’t perceive it at the personal risk level that it really is because it’s something that we do day in and day out. It’s almost second nature to us.

“But it’s not just me out there,” he said. “I have a wife and a child. They also have to bear the brunt of the job description and they have to live with it every day. I’m thankful for my wife who puts up with the late nights and crazy hours.”

Cannonier was grateful for the recognition. “Most of the time the community doesn’t realize what we do to keep it safe,” she said. “They think we stay in the office and that’s the majority of our job. But this job entails so much more. We wear different hats. We’re social workers, we’re law enforcement officers. We act as lawyers for the agency. We act as warrant officers. I was glad to be recognized.”

She thanked her department, her family and her friends, and coworkers for supporting her in her career choice. “Everyone that has been in my life,” she said. And she credited her department for providing her with the training and qualifications that kept her safe during a dangerous situation.

“As president of the Fraternal Order of Police and Council Leader of Division 236, I’m extremely proud of these two officers,” said Perez. “They stand as an example of many of our other officers who go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to protecting the community.”

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