By CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan
It is with a heavy heart that I write about three outstanding people who left us way too early. The magnitude of the loss impacts us all, but at the prisons or camps where these wonderful people worked, the pain is even more excruciating.
What I have witnessed these last couple weeks is an organization that comes together to give as much comfort as possible to those who are hurting. Even under these tragic circumstances the leadership and compassion I have witnessed is simply astounding. Staff fighting through their personal pain to comfort the families of our fallen brothers and sister, and taking care of each other in a way that makes me proud to be part of such a great group of people.
Officer Lynn Noyce was tragically killed in an automobile accident in Tehachapi. Lynn worked 24 years with CDCR, all at California Correctional Institution.
I had the distinct honor of attending the recent funeral services for Lynn. It was hard to witness the grief of her family and co-workers, but the service was packed, and it was filled with love. Warden Sullivan and his staff set their grief aside for the moment and remembered a beautiful woman, wife and mother who lived a great life.
It was heart-breaking but uplifting to see prison staff act in unison to comfort the family and say goodbye to such a wonderful person. Lynn is survived by her husband, CCI Lt. Eric Noyce, their three children, and a large family who loved her dearly. CCI – you did the prison, the Noyce family and especially Lynn, very proud. All of CDCR grieves with you.
K-9 Sgt. Brian Pyle recently passed away. I identify him as a K-9 Sergeant because he epitomized the important team of staff and dogs that make up our K-9 teams throughout the organization.
Brian and his partner Drako performed with amazing distinction that only could be achieved when a skilled handler and dog have a powerful bond.
Their legendary contraband finds made our prisons safer and solidified the important role of the K-9 teams in our organization.
I had the good fortune to run into Brian at San Quentin a few months back. I immediately respected his quiet demeanor and conviction, and he had that warm smile and strong handshake that I remembered from the previous times our paths crossed.
However, on this occasion Brian had an unusual happiness about him. He told me that he had found love and was going to get married to Michele, a longtime CDCR employee and his soul mate. I said goodbye to him thinking how much this quiet and unassuming man deserved happiness.
Brian passed away after marrying his beloved Michele and saying goodbye to his family, including Drako. Brian’s services are this week and I know that CMF and CDCR staff from across the State will join me in saying goodbye to a great man.
Lt. Derrick “Bo” Taylor and his girlfriend, Denise Cohen, were tragically murdered in the Las Vegas shooting.
That horrific event has shocked everyone, but in particular the staff of Sierra Conservation Center and the men and women who operate our fire camp programs.
I visited Bo’s camp in Ventura last week. CDCR and CAL FIRE staff are visibly shaken, but determined to honor Bo’s memory. They all spoke so highly of Bo the man, and his leadership was evident in the well-run camp.
There is no making sense of the tragic and needless loss of this outstanding person.
What was very clear to me is how loved Bo was, by the many people that had the good fortune to know him. Staff from SCC, CAL FIRE, the camp and the Office of Correctional Safety staff brought Bo back from Las Vegas and escorted him home with his two sons, Greg and Kyle, by his side. Funeral arrangements will be communicated to all staff.
Also injured during that senseless crime in Las Vegas was Sgt. Todd Wienke from California City Correctional Facility. Thankfully, Todd survived multiple gunshot wounds and will recover. He was one of the many heroes of that terrible night when he shielded his girlfriend from gunfire and helped lead others to safety.
I share with all of you the profound sadness from these losses, but also the extreme pride that this organization and its staff display in the face of tragedy. It is that spirit that ties us together as a family and as a profession.
To those staff members who are more directly impacted by these losses, please know that all of CDCR mourns with you.
We will bury our fallen with the dignity and grace befitting their lives. We will ensure their families understand how much their loved ones meant to us and provide as much comfort as humanly possible. And then we will take care of our grieving staff while never forgetting Lynn, Brian and Bo.