Northern, Southern DAPO peers, families, friends honor real ‘superheroes’
By Luis Patino, CDCR Public Information Officer
Tatiana, 10, was still wide-eyed from watching her dad get the shiny new star-shaped badge and listening to all the talk about how he and the other California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation parole agents are leaders who help keep California communities safe.
So when asked how she’d draw her dad if she were trying to make a portrait of him, she thought of comic book superheroes and enthusiastically exclaimed, “with a cape and stuff.”
Her twin sisters, Bella and Maya, beamed with pride. After the ceremony, Bella couldn’t help but plant a smack on her dad’s cheek.
The summer morning had been a rare glimpse for them all into what their dad, Joel Orozco, does at work day in and day out . Orozco, like many other agents keeps his family life carefully separated from his life in the field.
“I know he was working with sex offenders, but he keeps most of that to himself, ” said Maya.
“He doesn’t make a big deal out of it,” Tatiana added.
But this bright summer day in San Jose was different. Orozco served 10 years as a Correctional Officer before promoting to Parole Agent. In the last 15 years, he’s served in various roles and is now a Parole Agent II Specialist in the Northern Region. His family, and about a hundred other people including parole agents, their friends and loved ones, were gathered at the Santa Clara Re-entry Resource Center for one of the first of the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) promotion ceremonies in which agents were being moved up the ranks.
The honorees included several in a new generation of leaders. For recently promoted Parole Agent III Alex Hoang, service in CDCR runs in the family.
Hoang’s father Douglas retired a few years ago after decades of service. He was there to proudly see his son follow in his footsteps. The senior Hoang said, “He’s good at it.”
Agent Hoang’s mom, who first supported her husband’s work and now encourages her son, was proud of her son’s accomplishments.
“He’s keeping criminals off the streets,” she said.
One by one the promoted agents were honored by DAPO Deputy Director Bobby Haase, Northern Regional Parole Administrator Robert Ambroselli, other administrators, and local legislators who sent commendations.
The honorees included Parole Administrator I Teddy Pacheco, Parole Agent III Anthony Chapman, Parole Agent II Supervisor Yesenia Barocio, Parole Agent II Supervisor Ken Garcia, Parole Agent II Supervisor Carl Joachim, Parole Agent II Supervisor Trung Nguyen, Parole Agent II Supervisor Todd Schaffer, Parole Agent II Supervisor David Wheeler, Parole Agent II Specialist John Alvarez, Parole Agent II Specialist Randy Krings and Parole Agent Specialist Roxie Schultz.
A few days later at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, the Southern DAPO Region also celebrated their recently promoted supervisors.
Their ceremony began with a traditional salute to the stars and stripes as presented by the Honor Guard from the California Institution for Women and the California Institution for Men.
DAPO Director Dan Stone first thanked all of the agents.
“The role of the parole agent has two very distinct sides,” he said. “One is that of the law enforcer, because you make them abide by their conditions of parole, but your job is also to assist parolees and sometimes you are their only family, the rock that guides them through the first few years after coming out of prison, their mentor — guiding them back into society and working to get them jobs, helping them address their addictions, giving them hope and guiding them back into a productive lifestyle.”
Then he thanked the honorees for “taking the next step.”
Stone acknowledged recent challenges.
“The parole division has gone through many changes in the last couple of years, we’ve downsized almost by half and promotions were very few, so it’s great to see that you stuck with the process,” he said. “I want to encourage you to become the next generation of leaders for our division.”
The inaugural Promotion Ceremony also served as the first official Southern Region event presided over by new Regional Parole Administrator Guillermo Viera Rosa, who emphasized the event’s importance because it marks the supervisors’ “commitment to do even more than they were before for the benefit of public safety. This is a public acknowledgement that you care enough about your peers, that you’re going to step forward and say, I will lead…, …you are an important part of this department and it’s important that everyone, especially your family, understands that.”
The encouraging words hit home with honorees like new Employee Relationship Officer Charleen James-Mejia. As a former parole agent, she understands the challenges her peers face, especially when a parolee doesn’t seem to want to help himself by turning his life around.
She said in her new role, she wants to encourage less experienced agents to look beyond the parolees who don’t cooperate and to remember there will always be those who are committed to becoming a productive member of society.
“Every now and then, they will come across the successes that their work yields,” she said. “It’s good when you see someone unexpected and you know you were fair with them. They come up to you out of respect to introduce you to their family to tell them you’re the person took the time, that changed their life, and that motivated them towards the right path.”
That special person that a young lady like Tatiana sees as a real-life superhero.
The other real-life superheroes honored at the Southern Regional Promotion Ceremony included Parole Agents III Gabriella M. Aguilera, Douglas Broome, Sheri R. Day, Jason Johnson, Tifani D. LaDuke, Mauricio Lopez, Christine R. Miller, Bradley Pugh, Stephen Sanchez and Garret W. Saunders. Those promoting to Parole Agent II included Gerald Brooks, Karen Cox, Pamela Cullen, Jamaal D. Hall, David Labbe, Daniel Mendez, Corey Najjar, Tricia Peterson, Jackie Rivera, Christine M. Turner-Bailey, and Suzanne M. Wun. All promoted agents received new badges engraved with their new titles. Capes were not included.