Corrections USA announces 2016 award winners
Corrections USA Medal of Valor Winners:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 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.
6. 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 was attacked 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.
7. 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 aa 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 one 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.
11. 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 discoved 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 provide 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 recocery. Doctor’s indicated that quick action and professional training were crital 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 Saver 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.