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New Correction Officers Graduate as Commissioner Gets Set to Leave

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TWC News: New Correction Officers Graduate as Commissioner Gets Set to Leave
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It's described as one of the toughest jobs in the city, guarding inmates on Rikers Island and other jails, and hundreds took the oath to do just that at a ceremony Friday at Brooklyn College. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Three hundred and forty-two new correction officers are about to start helping patrol city jails.

"You're protecting all of us," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "You're protecting each other. You have each other's backs. And you're also protecting some people who have made mistakes. We're not happy with some of the choices those individuals made, but they're still our fellow citizens, and we're hopefully in the process of helping them back to a better path."

As they begin their careers, the current commissioner is ending hers. Dora Schriro is headed out the door, and it remains to be seen who Mayor Bill de Blasio will select to replace her.

Schriro said she believes she's done a good job over the last four years.

"We've done a tremendous amount tackling issues dealing with the adolescent population," she said. "We have huge challenge with the mentally ill, and we've done an extraordinary amount of work with that population finding new opportunities."

Those prisoners will no longer be placed in solitary confinement.

Various union presidents say that issues remain, including what they call excessive disciplining of officers.

Although he often was at odds with Schriro, Norman Seabrook, the president of the correction officers' union, thanked her for her work and said that the outgoing commissioner did what she could.

"I think Dora accomplished what she wanted to accomplish by putting in a lot of programs to benefit inmates that come from the communities," Seabrook said. "It's just short-lived because the average stay is 40 days in the city's jail system."

Michael Jacobson was a DOC commissioner in the '90s. He said that Schriro did a decent job, but that a new commissioner is coming in at good time.

"You really do have an opportunity to both run a better jail, a safer jail, a more efficient jail, but also to think about working with some of your colleagues in government and the communities about, are there things that you can do, whether it is on re-entry or treatment, to really address some of the issues about why people get into jail in the first place, and what happens to them when they leave," Jacobson said.

The big question is whether the new mayor will pick the new commissioner from inside the agency or outside.

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