21 new correction officers graduate from academy

DOVER — So what do a former Navy nuclear mechanic, environmental scientist, automobile mechanic and substance abuse counselor have in common?
They’re all new Delaware Department of Correction officers, that’s what.

The rookie COs come from throughout Delaware, along with New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania as well.
A diverse 21-member class was honored during an hour-long graduation ceremony Friday afternoon, which also included dedication of the Steven R. Floyd Sr. Training Academy.
The latest staff infusion leaves the DOC with 145 unfilled positions, a 10 percent vacancy rate. The ranks have risen by 94 officers overall since July 1, 2018.

DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis counseled the class that “the biggest threat is complacency” when on duty so “stay alert.” She trusted that they would fulfill the agency’s dual mission of providing safety for society and second chance opportunities to offenders.
Delaware Gov. John Carney said the newly named Dover headquarters facility on McKee Road will provide a continuing reminder of Lt. Floyd’s “work ethic, commitment to mission and courage.” The officer died during an inmate uprising at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna on Feb. 1, 2017.

The cadets entered into the ceremony with a flourish, marching and chanting together with an energy and focus that captured everyone’s full attention.
Gov. Carney said he regularly attends graduation events but “I don’t think any class rivals the way this class worked themselves into the room today.”

Cadets in the graduation ceremony.

While the newcomers were lauded for their excellence during an often grueling 13-week training course, class speaker Shawn Morse of Selbyville forecast even bigger things to come.
“We are young, motivated, hard working men and women dedicated to making a difference,” he said. “ … We are a talented class (full of) potential wardens, bureau chiefs, and maybe even a commissioner.”

Susan Payne got the nod as Class 234’s outstanding cadet among what primary instructor Randall Meding said was a group of extremely qualified candidates.
Near the end of her guest speaker remarks, retired Delaware Adjutant General Carol Timmons led the class through a few inhale/exhale breathing exercises that may come in handy working in what’s an inherently stressful occupation.

“Sometimes you get so focused you stop thinking about rules and procedures,” she said. “ … If you make a mistake, own it, fix it and learn from it.”
Also, Ms. Timmons urged the cadets to “treat this new job as your profession, your mission” as they stand with other first responders dedicated to providing safety and security to the public.
She additionally saluted the array of various backgrounds in the new class, opining that “A quilt of one color is nice but a quilt of many fabrics and colors is beautiful.”

Other graduates included Le’Roy Bell Jr., Michael Brown, Wesley Devereaux, Vincent Dilley, Nathaniel Duguid, Travis Guthrie, Joshua Hampton, Scott Haymond, James Marshallsea, Yasmin Myrick, Neimiah Prince, Sadaiah Robbins, Yasim Simmons, Yann Smith, Sam Thomas, Christopher Uchman, Deanna Walton, Eszter White and Brock Wingate.

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