Recognize co-worker’s bravery, outstanding acts with Medal of Valor nomination

The Honor Guard presents colors during the beginning of the Medal of Valor ceremony in 2014.

The Honor Guard presents colors during the beginning of the Medal of Valor ceremony in 2014.

Last year, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recognized more than 100 men and women, a near record number, during the 30th annual Medal of Valor Ceremony. Nominations for this year’s Medal of Valor are being accepted through Jan. 31.

MOV nomination form can be found at MOV-Nomination-Form. The form can also be found on the CDCR Net Forms Portal. The Medal of Valor Committee, which meets in March, makes the decisions of whom to honor and with what award.

Here are explanations of the awards CDCR gives for bravery and outstanding acts:

Medal of Valor

CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard addresses the packed auditorium during the 2014 Medal of Valor Ceremony.

CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard addresses the packed auditorium during the 2014 Medal of Valor Ceremony.

The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award, earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service.

One of last year’s recipients put himself in harm’s way to save the life of another.

Correctional Sergeant Rafael Segovia, with the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, was traveling with his two sons on the 241 Toll Road in Orange County on Dec. 23, 2013, when he saw a burning vehicle along the side of the road.

The sergeant stopped to help.

Sgt. Segovia ran to the passenger side just as a woman, engulfed in flames, stepped from the vehicle. He removed his sweatshirt and swatted the flames while telling the woman to drop and roll.

She did, but in doing so ignited vegetation on the roadside.

After exinguishing the flames on the woman, Segovia asked the other people who had stopped if they had called 911.

They told him they hadn’t because they had left their phones in their cars.

Segovia ran back through the smoke to retrieve his phone and called 911.

Segovia then returned to the woman, and waited with her until medical help arrived.

The woman sustained second- and third-degree burns on her face, arms, back and legs, but survived.

Gold Star

The Gold Star 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.

Three of last year’s recipients thwarted an attack on a doctor.

On Aug. 12, 2013, an inmate had his blood pressure taken in the clinic at Mule Creek State Prison. The inmate then walked into a doctor’s office and grabbed her by the hair from behind and began choking her.

The doctor activated her personal alarm and was eventually able to call out.

Registered Dental Assistants Jennifer “Jeni” Vicini and Angela Dunham, along with Licensed Vocational Nurse Evangeline Baliton, heard her cries and rushed to her office.

They were able to pull the doctor free from the grasp of the inmate and out of the office.

Officers responding to the doctor’s alarm were able to get the inmate to the ground and place him in restraints.

Found in the inmate’s possession were an inmate-manufactured slashing weapon and a hand-written “manifesto” which indicated he intended to take the doctor as a hostage, and then commit a murder/suicide.

Silver Star

The Silver Star 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 him or herself by performing in stressful situations with exceptional tactics or judgment.

A fishing trip for two Correctional Officers turned into a lifesaving act.

Correctional Officers Alfonso Din, Jr. and Ruben Rosales Jr. were fishing along a canal in the Imperial Valley on Oct. 6, 2013, when they saw a teenage boy on the top of the canal bank waving his arms frantically and pointing into the canal.

Officer Din saw the boy’s father in the canal holding onto the root of a small tree.

Officers Din and Rosales threw a makeshift rescue line to the man, but he was too weak to pull himself up.

Officer Din slid down the canal bank and had the man grab his foot.

Officer Rosales pulled the two men – whose combined weight exceeded 500 pounds – up the canal bank with the nylon cord.

The Officers remained with the man until they were sure he could drive home safely.

Bronze Star

The Bronze Star Medal 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.

One of last year’s recipients saved someone following a major accident.

California Medical Facility Correctional Officer Salvador Hernandez was eastbound on Interstate 80 on April 15, 2013, when he came upon an accident in which a large truck had rear-ended a car, knocking it across two lanes of traffic and into bushes 30 feet off the highway.

The driver of the car was Correctional Counselor Charlie Thompson. He had blood coming from his face and was unable to move his right leg or right arm. He was concerned he would not be able to get out of his vehicle should it catch fire.

Officer Hernandez worked with others to force open the wrecked car’s passenger-side door and calmly reassured Thompson.

“Everything will be all right, brother. We got you,” he told Thompson. “We’re going to get you out of there, and you’re going to be OK.”

Officer Hernandez helped Mr. Thompson out of the vehicle and assisted the paramedics. He also gathered Mr. Thompson’s belongings and notified his family.

Unit Citation

The Unit Citation is awarded for great courage displayed by a departmental unit in the course of conducting an operation in the face of immediate life-threatening circumstances.

Agents from Sacramento Fugitive Apprehension Team and the Special Service Unit – Rancho Cordova were recognized last year for their efforts related to the apprehension of a fugitive.

On Oct. 25, 2013, law enforcement officers identified Parolee at Large, Samuel Duran, who has a violent criminal history, and attempted to arrest him in Roseville.

Duran wounded a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent. He then fled.

CDCR’s agents responded immediately, and then sought information from the Criminal Intelligence and Analysis Unit.

About two hours into the ensuring search, law enforcement officers found that a door had been kicked in at a residence in Roseville. As SWAT officers surrounded the residence, Duran opened fire with an assault rifle from inside the residence, injuring three SWAT officers.

During the incident, Agents and Analysts from CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety provided the following assistance:

  • Gathered pertinent intelligence on Duran to help formulate a subject profile to assess possible tactics and actions. Assisted the inner perimeter and provided support to the SWAT Team.
  • Assisted at the Command Post and provided current and updated information to OCS managers.
  • Assisted in the negotiation process.
  • Provided intelligence needed to obtain additional search warrants.
  • Coordinated simultaneous cell searches throughout State institutions

After a stand-off of seven hours, crisis negotiators convinced Duran to surrender.

Distinguished Service Medal

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded for an employee’s work conduct with the Department for a period of months or years, or involvement in a specific assignment of unusual benefit to the Department.

One of last year’s honorees was Michael Miranda, Gang Institution Coordinators at N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility.

Mr. Miranda provides an example of the adage that exemplary people excel at what they do and are excellent examples to others.

Many of the tasks of the Gang Institution Coordinator are done not in the institution, but in the community; from having a life-changing discussion with a high-risk elementary school student to leading youth on off-grounds excursions during which NACYCF youth participate in restorative-justice projects.

Mr. Miranda makes certain each youth is aware of the harm done to victims, understands the healing process of victimization and understands the importance off the youth’s actions in the community.

He has provided support for events such as the March on the Capitol during Nation Victims Week; the Parents of Murdered Children Annual Vigil and delivering presents to a homeless shelter during the holiday season.

Employee Recognition awards

The Medal of Valor honors are separate from the Employee Recognition awards, which are also made during the Medal of Valor Ceremony. These awards include Correctional Officer of the Year, Correctional Supervisor of the Year and Executive of the Year, as well as others.

These honorees are selected by CDCR executives.

If you have questions or can’t open the MOV nomination form, call Bill Enfield, OPEC Chief of Internal Communications, at (916) 327-0277 or email him at william.enfield@cdcr.ca.gov.

See the 2014 ceremony (photos, video and story) at http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/09/cdcr-staff-go-above-and-beyond-call-of-duty-medal-of-valor-honors-brave-actions/