Called to Serve: New York City Department of Correction
New York's Boldest
I took all the law enforcement exams. The NYC Department of Correction was the first agency to call me,” Deputy Warden Chan recalls of his transition from the United States Coast Guard to civil service. “I entered the Correction Academy just one month after September 11th.”
Since then, Chan has risen through the uniform ranks – from correction officer to captain to assistant deputy warden to his current role, deputy warden. He mentors many new correction officers aspiring to leadership and is also a trustee of the Asian Jade Society, one of the 17 employee affinity groups at the NYC Department of Correction.
Deputy Warden Chan smiled as he reflected on his career with the agency. “This has one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” he said.
Correction Officer Cotton, one of the Department of Correction’s two military recruiters, agreed. “I’m so proud to serve both my country and my city,” she said.
With 20 years’ time in service (TIS) in the New York Army National Guard, and 12 years at the NYC Correction Department, Cotton manages her roles as correction officer/military recruiter and staff sergeant/E-6 with an efficiency that belies the demands of both.
I’m dedicated to the success of both careers, said Officer Cotton. “When I’m on duty – whether it’s at the Correction Department or at the Army National Guard – I give my full focus and energy to the responsibilities given to me.”
Cotton also has the full support of the NYC Department of Correction for her military career. “The Department has procedures in place for military personnel,” she said. “When an employee receives their ordered military duty dates, they have to inform their (Correction) command. As long as they provide proof and appropriate notification of duty, the Correction Department will release them to complete their military duty.”
It is a question Cotton gets often when she talks to prospective candidates about joining New York’s Boldest. “They ask about the transition and whether they’ll be able to use their military training,” she said. “The Correction Department is a paramilitary organization with many similarities, so for me, it was an easy transition.”
Since joining the Recruitment Unit in 2015, Cotton has spoken to thousands of service members and their families about career opportunities at the NYC Department of Correction. “I share my experiences as a correction officer and a 15P (aviation operations sergeant), and it’s something that other military service members can relate to,” she said. “I chose these careers for the chance to help others, so I’m doing what I love.”
On the Job
Correction Officer Peralta gives a similar reason for his decision to join the NYC Department of Correction. “From the moment I step into the office, I’m assisting a colleague in need."
A former United States Army sergeant who served in Iraq and Kuwait, Officer Peralta now spends his time helping his fellow Correction employees.
Peralta is part of the agency’s Corrections Assistance Resources to Employees (C.A.R.E.) Unit, an exclusive support service provided only to Department of Correction employees. C.A.R.E. offers a wide range of services to employees, including: confidential counseling, hospital visits, military support, outreach, and victims’ services.
Officer Peralta, who has been with the C.A.R.E. Unit for more than two years, said his military background prepared him for the job.
“We get a lot of calls in the C.A.R.E. Unit from employees who want nothing more than to just vent. You'd be surprised how good it feels to have someone on the other side of the phone who has been there and knows what you’re going through.”
In addition to his general C.A.R.E. duties, Peralta also leads the unit’s Military Reach-Out project. “I maintain contact with Correction employees who are deployed overseas to let them know that there is someone in DOC they can turn to if they need something,” Peralta said.
“We have been in contact with the 50+ employees who are currently deployed overseas,” Officer Peralta proudly noted. “And when they return, we will help them to transition back into their Correction job as seamlessly as possible.”
Peralta is also part of the Military Advocacy Team (M.A.T.), a small, but growing, volunteer unit made up of current employees and retirees, whose goal is to help military employees with any issues they have. The group attends military events, including the annual Veterans Day parade, sends care packages to deployed colleagues, and helps with recruiting efforts.
“Knowing that I helped someone improve his or her life makes me feel fulfilled,” said Correction Officer Peralta of his job. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Join the 900+ military service members who work at the NYC Department of Correction.
Visit (http://nyc.gov/jointheboldest) to learn more about uniform and non-uniform career opportunities.
This article appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of Search & Employ Magazine