Seventeen men and women graduated from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections’ Correctional Officer Training Academy Class 78 on Friday, September 24th, at Rhode Island College’s Sapinsley Hall. Those receiving special awards include: Class Valedictorian – Darryl R. Palana; Physical Fitness Award (presented to the individual who obtained the highest score at the end of the Physical Fitness run) – Caronelle F. Samuels; Firearms Award (presented to the individual who obtained the highest overall score when qualifying with three departmental weapons) – Brian J. Bastien; and Combat Master Award (presented to the individual who obtained three perfect scores with the Department’s 40 caliber pistol – Gerard R. Grandpre.
Family and friends of the graduates and RIDOC staff attended the ceremony where Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police Col. Brendan Doherty was the invited keynote speaker. Corrections Director A.T. Wall also spoke, commending the graduates for making it to this point, noting that more than 2,800 people applied during the recruitment period. He noted, “By taking this oath today, you are saying ‘I accept this mission.’ You are assuming the public’s trust. You are saying ‘Come what may, I am here to serve and protect the public, visitors, and inmates.’ Go out and fulfill that mission for the people of our state.”
Class valedictorian Darryl R. Palana gave brief remarks in which he thanked the Training Academy staff for treating class members with “respect, dignity, and professionalism.” In referencing the camaraderie that developed among class members, he also noted “We all had each others’ backs.”
During the arduous nine-week schedule, participants undergo physical fitness and weapons training and have classroom instruction in defensive tactics, communication skills, and the law as it relates to correctional officers. The Sunday following graduation, five members of the new class (those with the highest averages) of correctional officers began by shadowing more senior officers for a two-week period, after which they were assigned to posts in one of the prisons. The remaining graduates will be called up as officers retire and are expected to be working by the end of the year.