California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials awarded 48 employees for acts of bravery and innovation this morning at the department's 27th annual Medal of Valor ceremony at Sacramento's Radisson Hotel.
Gov. Jerry Brown opened the event, with a five-minute speech thanking corrections employees for their hard work. At the same time, he warned, the state's dire finances and ongoing court mandates and other factors will mean that CDCR employees will all need to continue "to work better, work smarter and work collaboratively."
Among the employees who received awards: Ken Wong, a San Francisco parole agent who launched a program in 2001 in which parolees clean up graffiti, plant trees and work on other community beautification projects.
"I just started doing it with two or three parolees on my weekends off," Wong said after receiving his medal for distinguished service from CDCR Secretary Matt Cate. "It just grew from there."
More than 1,000 parolees have participated in the program in the last decade, with Wong and four other agents donating their personal time to oversee the work. The program has drawn praise and assistance from various agencies, community groups and public officials. And the program has formed a partnership with San Francisco's Public Works Department, which provides tools and other support.
Along with Wong, parole agents Milton Chew, Martin Figueroa, George Horiuchi and Charlotte Sullivan received awards for their work on the parolee service program.
Here's the complete list of award winners provided by CDCR:
MEDAL OF VALOR
The Medal of Valor is CDCR's highest award, earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others.
Correctional Officer Jesus S. Coronado, Calipatria State Prison
GOLD STAR MEDAL
The Corrections Star (Gold) medal is the department's second-highest award for heroic deeds under extraordinary circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of immediate peril in acting to save the life of another person.
Correctional Officer Jose F. Marron, Correctional Training Facility
Parole Agent Margarita R. Montoya-Ortiz, Bakersfield Juvenile Parole Office
SILVER STAR MEDAL
The Corrections Star (Silver) medal is the department's third-highest award for acts of bravery under extraordinary or unusual circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of potential peril while saving or attempting to save the life of another person or distinguish themselves by performing in stressful situations with exceptional tactics or judgment.
Assistant Supervising Parole Agent Lisa Aceves, Bakersfield Juvenile Parole Office
Correctional Lieutenant Jeremy W. Austin, Mule Creek State Prison
Special Agent Michael L. Brodie, Office of Correctional Safety
Correctional Officer Jason De La Torre, California State Prison, Los Angeles County
Correctional Officer Julian V. Garcia, Calipatria State Prison
Clinical Psychologist Scott Johnson, North Kern State Prison
Correctional Officer Danny A. Ramirez, California Medical Facility
Parole Agent Robert D. Story, Parole Region I
Instructor Danny Trout, Bakersfield Juvenile Parole Office
Correctional Officer Britt L. Watts, California Medical Facility
Correctional Officer Mark S. Yates, California Institution for Men
BRONZE STAR MEDAL
The Corrections Star (Bronze) is the department's award for saving a life without placing oneself in peril. The employee shall have used proper training and tactics in a professional manner to save, or clearly contribute to saving, the life of another person
Licensed Vocational Nurse Anthony Andreola, California Correctional Institution
Correctional Officer Mannie N. Christensen, Folsom State Prison
Correctional Sergeant Wade D. Davey, Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility
Correctional Officer Thomas R. Davies, California Correctional Institution
Correctional Officer German J. Jimenez, Centinela State Prison
Correctional Lieutenant Denise M. Laguna, California Out-of-State Facilities
Correctional Sergeant Caesar V. Padua, Central California Women's Facility
Correctional Officer Rebecca Rutledge, Sierra Conservation Center
Correctional Lieutenant Joseph Stewart, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Counselor I Crystal M. Wood, California Correctional Institution
Correctional Sergeant David G. Villegas, Central California Women's Facility
Correctional Lieutenant Michael C. Villegas, Central California Women's Facility
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL
The Distinguished Service Medal is for an employee's exemplary work conduct with the department for a period of months or years, or involvement in a specific assignment of unusual benefit to the Department.
Parole Agent I Milton J. Chew, Parole Region III
Statewide K-9 Coordinator Wayne W. Conrad, California State Prison, Solano
Parole Agent I Martin V. Figueroa, Parole Region II
Correctional Officer Joseph E. Hartl, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Officer Raphael Heredia, California State Prison, Sacramento
Parole Agent III George S. Horiuchi, Division of Adult Parole Operations
Automotive Technician Gary M. Martinez, California Institution for Women
Correctional Officer Myisha R. Milsap, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Officer Susanne R. Neely, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Officer Arti D. Parmar, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Officer Thomas M. Quezada, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Sergeant Le'Vance A. Quinn, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Officer Simon A. Ramirez, California State Prison, Sacramento
Chief Deputy Regional Administrator Maritza J. Rodriguez, Region IV
Parole Agent I Charlotte A. Sullivan, Parole Region II
Correctional Officer Develyn J. Till, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Officer Carlos E. Villasenor, California State Prison, Sacramento
Correctional Officer Eric L. Walker, California State Prison, Sacramento
Parole Agent III Ken H. Wong, Parole Region II
Correctional Officer Chris B. Wuest, California State Prison, Sacramento
CORRECTIONAL SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR
Lieutenant Michael Patrick West, North Kern State Prison
CORRECTIONAL PEACE OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Correctional Officer Christine Boyd, High Desert State Prison
DIRECTOR'S SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
Correctional Officer Luis Hernandez, Calipatria State Prison