|Caption from Inside Out July 1981 issue:|
MAYOR EDWARD KOCH
restates his commitment to a strong Correction Department during remarks at Graduation Ceremony at Brooklyn College in April. The Department also presented awards at the ceremony, including the Correction Medal of Honor to C.O. Juan Vincenfe, who risked his life to foil an escape attempt on the ninth floor in Brooklyn last summer. [Web note: That looks like Rose M. Singer to Koch's right in the front row including Commissioner Ward.]
From July 1981 Inside Out:
A HIDDEN AGENA:
By Sandra Lewis Smith
"I wanted to meet you and see you and have you see me," Commissioner Benjamin Ward said to the nervous group of young staff members seated in his office. "And after you get over being shy, I want you to ask me some hard questions." There was nervous laughter and so began a series of meetings with the Commissioner held with staff members who do not usually come into contact with departmental leaders during the course of their working day.
"I also have a hidden agenda," Ward said with a slight smile. "I see this as a perfect opportunity to recruit from within, so I'd like to tell you about this department.
"This is a very good career for young people like all of you. The money is good, the opportunities are there for you if you are motivated and the twenty years fly by when you're young."
The Commissioner spoke of contact with inmates and the rewards of doing something for other people. "You know," he said looking around the room, "When you do something for someone else, you do something for yourself."
|This image was part of a July 1981 Inside Out captionless centerfold photo spread by graphic designer James Vann and photographer Errol Toulon headlined: 1980:The Year in Pictures. However, clearly the photo shows Cardinal Cooke with Commissioner Ward. The webmaster has been told that the woman on the right is Sister Eileen Hogan, administrative chaplain at what was then the Correction Institutions for Women. |
Commissioner Ward explained the City's new Training and Experience examination for correction officers and he showed the group a map of Rikers Island detailing all of the institutions and the perimeter land. Then he talked about his own career and life.
"I grew up in Brooklyn in a section called Weeksville. When I was in high school, students were selected to participate in city government for one day. Well, I was the Police Commissioner for a day." The group laughed. Obviously they were relaxed.
"Until that day, I stayed far away from the police. I never did anything wrong, but if I saw the police walking towards me, I crossed the street. After the day as the 'Police Commissioner,' I related to the police differently, but I wanted to be a truck driver."
Looking at the Commissioner behind his desk, his walls covered with diplomas, degrees, awards and pictures with dignitaries, it must have been difficult for the group to imagine this man wanting to be a truck driver.
|Caption from Inside Out Summer 1983 issue: Commissioner Benjamin Ward (left) looks on as First Deputy Commissioner Peter Seitchik (center) is sworn in by Director of Personnel Helen Tanzosh (right) at Correction Day ceremony. [Photo by Nelson Villafane]|
"I went to the High School of Auto Mechanics and started driving a truck," Ward said. "Then I went into service. The experience changed my mind about what I wanted to do with my own life.
"I came out, I went to high school and college at the same time to gain academic credits needed to finish college. By then I was a member of the police force and I took every examination that came along; in fact, I was on nine different lists at the same time for different jobs.
"You know, you do yourself a disservice if you don't spend at least one lunch hour going over here," he said, motioning out of his window towards Federal Plaza, "checking out the bulletin boards for tests and job opportunities. The same with City Personnel. Don't waste your time."
Commissioner Ward thought he wanted to be a Sociologist but after taking an examination for a scholarship to Brooklyn Law School and winning it, he went to Law School. In fact, that scholarship and the two following saw the Commissioner straight through law school where he made the Law Review and graduated with top honors.
|Caption from Inside Out Summer 1983 issue: DOC SAYS THANKS . . . Former First Deputy Commissioner Richard Koehler (left) accepts a plaque from Commissioner Benjamin Ward for his "diligent and distinguished accomplishments" during his tenure as First Deputy Commissioner. Mr. Koehler is now Deputy Inspector for Management Analysis for the New York City Police Department. [Photo by Nelson Villafane]|
Ward paused for questions.
"Are there padded cells?" asked Julio Mara.
"No," the Commissioner answered, "We don't need padded cells to deal with disturbed inmates."
"Are the officers in danger?" asked Heriberto Villanueve.
"Well, I would say that being on the police force is far more dangerous. In the jails, we have C.E.R.T. to respond to in-house emergencies, and in the blocks where there are large numbers of inmates, each officer wears a personal alarm. Anyhow, you shouldn't have to fight. If you treat people fairly, they respond."
"I was always getting ready to get ready," Commissioner Ward said with a warm smile. "I kept after those bulletin boards, I kept on taking tests I was in school for ten years straight without a break and I worked at the same time. But you know what? When people see you trying to help yourself, they reach out to help you. All along I had people who reached out to me. When I look back, that's so clear to me now.
|Caption from Inside Out Summer 1983 issue: Director of Personnel Helen Tanzosh swears in Deputy Commissioner Albert D. Gray (right) of Planning, Information Systems and Inspectional Services while Commissioner Benjamin Ward looks. [Photo by William Mendoza]|
"But remember, no one owes you anything and if you have the attitude that life owes you something, it will kill you. It ruins the work ethic. Remember, in this life you have to just help yourself. There are absolutely no free rides."
After the meeting with Commissioner Ward, Villanueve, who works in Personnel said the meeting with the Commissioner had given him hope. "I look at him, I listen to him and I know I can do it too," he said. "Yeah, I'm takin' the next test."