Article by Thy Vuong, Office of Public and Employee Communications
Photos by Eric Owens, CDCR staff photographer
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris honored six California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employees with awards for Valor on July 24.
“These brave honorees acted without thought for their own personal safety,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “I’m proud to lead a department filled with countless men and women who are so devoted to public safety that they are instinctively willing to put their lives on the line to protect others.”
Every year, the Attorney General honors public safety officers from throughout the state for their extraordinary commitment, service and exceptional courage and for going above and beyond the call of duty in an attempt to save or protect a human life.
Honorees can include any enforcer of public safety from the front lines on the street to the four walls of a detention center or institution.
CDCR was proud to nominate Correctional Sgt. Rafael Segovia from the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility; Correctional Officer Ney Vencer from the California State Prison-Sacramento; and Special Agent Dennis Reitz, Parole Agent Joseph Basile, Parole Agent Nate Castro and Special Agent Scott Moore of CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety.
All six received the Peace Officer Certificate of Valor.
Special Agent Dennis Reitz, Parole Agent I Nate Castro, Parole Agent I Joseph Basile, and Special Agent Scott Moore
On Nov. 5, 2013, Parole Agents Castro and Basile and Special Agents Reitz (then a Parole Agent) and Moore – members of CDCR’s Fugitive Apprehension Team – were part of the United States Marshals’ Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force which also included officers from the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
Their goal was to apprehend dangerous fugitive-at-large Jerry Vue, wanted for several felonies including kidnap, rape, torture and assault with a deadly weapon.
The task force members suspected Vue was in a Fresno apartment. Task force members went to the apartment and entered it.
Vue began firing at the task force members and Agent Castro was shot once in the chest. Fortunately, he was wearing a bullet-resistant vest.
Agent Reitz reacted quickly and pulled Castro out of the line of fire, bravely putting himself between the wounded agent and Vue, who continued shooting at task force team members.
Agents Basile and Moore helped defend their team and ensured no one else suffered any casualties.
“When working on a risky operation, being acutely trained to handle dangerous situations is one thing; it is quite another to be able to adapt as a team to perilous situations,” said Secretary Beard.
Correctional Sgt. Rafael Segovia
On Dec. 23, 2013, Sgt. Segovia was off-duty and traveling with his sons through Orange County when he saw a burning car on the side of the road.
He immediately pulled over to assist. A man was standing by the vehicle. Sgt. Segovia asked him if there was anyone else in the vehicle.
The man was visibly in shock, however, and did not answer. Just as Sgt. Segovia ran to the passenger side of the car, a woman stepped from the vehicle with her clothes engulfed in flames.
Sgt. Segovia removed his sweatshirt and swatted at the flames. He told her to drop to the ground and roll, which she quickly did.
Sgt. Segovia called 9-1-1 to get aid for the injured woman whose shoes had melted to her feet and remained with her until medical help arrived.
Because of Sgt. Segovia’s actions to help a stranger in dire trouble, the woman survived.
“Sgt. Segovia acted heroically, even while off-duty and embarking on a road trip with his sons. His actions show the value of our custody staff. They not only do their best to safeguard inmates in prisons, but are also committed to our communities,” Secretary Beard said.
Correctional Officer Ney Vencer
On Nov. 18, 2013, Officer Vencer and his partner were processing the morning education release of inmates at California State Prison-Sacramento, scanning each inmate with a hand-held metal detector and conducting clothed body searches.
Suddenly, an inmate armed with a stabbing weapon attacked Officer Vencer. Initially stunned by the impact of the weapon, Officer Vencer quickly recovered and used his hands to fend off the attack.
As he struggled to gain control of the inmate, his partner struck the inmate several times with his expandable baton. Unfazed by the baton strikes, however, the inmate continued his attack.
Despite his injuries, Officer Vencer prevented the inmate from attacking his partner. The inmate was ultimately restrained.
Officer Vencer suffered serious injuries. He sustained lacerations to his head and ear that required reconstructive surgery and a life-threatening laceration to the left side of his neck. He also suffered a partially severed tendon in his left thumb.
“Officer Vencer’s quick reactions helped him quickly regain control of the situation with his partner and quell the incident before further harm could be committed,” Secretary Beard said.
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Officer Vencer, Sgt. Segovia, Parole Agents Castro and Bastile and Special Agents Reitz and Moore will also be honored along with dozens of other courageous and dedicated CDCR employees at the Department’s 2014 Medal of Valor Ceremony on Sept. 18, 2014.
“The entire CDCR family is proud of all of the men and women who serve and protect public safety,” Secretary Beard said.