NYC DOC newsletter excerpts -- II

These images and texts were scanned directly from various NYC DOC newsletters published under Commissioner Ben Ward. Not every issue published during his more than four years as DOC Commissioner is represented in this necessarily limited selection.

From July 1981 issue of Inside Out:

Caption from Inside Out October 1980 issue:
Carl Ceo (center) was all smiles the day he was sworn in by Commissioner Benjamin Ward and Chief of Operations Jacqueline McMickens as the new Deputy Chief, along with Warden Alexander Jenkins and Deputy Warden -Betty Edwards. Barely a month later, Ceo was gone, killed in a tragic auto accident as he responded to an emergency on Rikers Island...

by Benjamin Ward


One year can make quite a difference.

A year ago at this time, we were busy trying to explain the latest escape at Rikers Island, trying to restructure our staffing procedures to withstand personnel cuts even as we paid a million dollars a month in overtime, and trying to readjust to the the elimination of plans for the state's takeover of Rikers Island.

Caption from Inside Out October 1980 issue: Austin Fields receives congratulations from Chief of Operations, Jacqueline McMickens as Commissioner Ward looks on. [Fields was among] a group of CO's who waited five years for appointment. The webmaster has been told that that the officer on the left, helping with the paperwork, is Ed Zapatoki.

As this is written, we have had one escape in 12 months on Rikers Island. We are rapidly adding 713 Correction Officers to our staff and preparing proposals for more additions, and working with other agencies of City government on a multimillion dollar capital improvement plan designed to modernize the Department of Correction without direct state involvement.

To be sure, we still have a ways to go. The security systems we are putting in place are not yet complete. Our staff is not yet at its authorized level and, especially with the opening of the Anna M. Kross Center as a separate institution, we are still working far too much overtime. A number of plans we have for further improvement of the Department, including the start of an ongoing training program for all officers, await approval and implementation. . . .

Caption from Inside Out July 1981 issue: When Warden Alexander Jenkins' curiosity got the better of him this spring, he arranged for an appraisal of the picture on the dining hall wall at CIFM that was signed by "Dali." It proved to be the real thing -- an all-but-forgotten picture by the master, Salvador Dali, donated to the institution 16 years ago and worth between $76,000 and $100,000. Commissioner Benjamin Ward (standing next to the Dali) says the picture will be rehung in the facility after it is exhibited in Albany and Alexandria, Va.

The new Manhattan House of Detention for Men, which will be opened some time next year, promises to provide our uniformed and civilian employees there with every available tool to best accomplish their missions. The facility will be small, many services will be decentralized to eliminate unnecessary movement of inmates, internal security will be enhanced by the extensive use of built-in cell furnishings that cannot be appropriated for weaponry and, generally, the new jail will stress manageability.

By the time the new Manhattan House opens, I hope that our classification system is in place system-wide. We have started a pilot classification project in the Bronx, taking the first step toward realizing a longstanding goal of many in this agency -- a rational, effective system of employing data and observations to channel different kinds of inmates into different levels of security and from the point we first receive them.

Another goal, as outlined in our five-year capital planning document, is for the renovation of existing facilities in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as well as on Rikers Island, to bring them all into compliance with current standards of the American Correctional Association and the federal courts. A functioning classification system would be a most valuable tool in that endeavor. . . .

We are also exploring still more refinement in areas such as transportation of inmates, expansion of industrial programming and more sophisticated computerization of information. . . . Much work needs to be done, but I believe we are a lot closer to that goal now than we were a year ago and I thank all of you who have worked long and hard to bring us as far as we've come.

Caption from Inside Out July 1981 issue:

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:

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."

From Summer 1983 Inside Out:


Among family, friends, and employees, the Department of Correction paid homage to its own at the Correction Day Ceremony on May 11 at City Hall Plaza with Chief of Operations Jacqueline McMickens as master of ceremonies. . . .

[T]he Department's highest award, the Medal of Honor, was awarded posthumously to Deputy Chief of Operations Carl Ceo, who was killed in an auto accident in August, 1980 as he rushed to the scene of an inmate disturbance on Rikers Island. Mrs. Carol Ceo, Carl's widow, accepted the medal. . . . First Deputy Commissioner Peter Seitchik was sworn in . . . Commissioner Seitchik, prior to coming to Correction, was the city's Deputy Director of Operations, Mayor's Office.

The national anthem was sung by Mrs. Olivia Ward, wife of Commissioner Ward and a retired New York City elementary school principal who has now returned to her earlier career as a vocalist. Ray McKinley, jazz pianist, accompanied Mrs. Ward. The Department's Emerald Pipe Band provided a musical selection.

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