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Actions by TDCJ, TBPP employees earn Unsung Hero Awards

Sgt. Young and Carol Blair Johnston holding up Young's award
Jordan Unit Sgt. Brian Young is congratulated on his TPEA Unsung Heroes award by TDCJ Human Resources Director Carol Blair Johnston. Not pictured: CO III Gina Kane and CO III Travis Willey of the Baten Unit in Pampa.

Photo by Human Resources

The Texas Public Employees Association (TPEA) recently presented four Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees and two Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles employees with Unsung Hero Awards.

Correctional officers Gina Kane, Brian Young, and Travis Willey of the Baten Unit in Pampa were recognized for saving the life of an offender at the Panhandle facility, and CO V Ernie Lucero of the Dalhart Unit was honored for demonstrating devotion to both TDCJ and his country.

Meanwhile, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (TBPP) employees Jason Kelly and Brian Farrar were recognized for developing a computer program that has allowed the TBPP to cut costs by replacing an analog recording system with a digital recording system.

The TDCJ and TBPP were presented their awards at the TPEA’s 60th Annual Professional Development Conference in San Antonio this past summer.

Officers Kane, Young, and Willey are credited with saving the life of an offender who suffered a seizure and collapsed at the unit on December 23, 2005. Upon responding to calls for assistance, the three officers found the offender without a pulse and immediately started life-saving techniques, including CPR and the use of a defibrillator on the victim. After a few minutes, the offender took a few raspy breaths and the officers were able to stabilize his condition until he could by transported to the hospital by ambulance. The offender was later paroled and joined his wife in calling the unit to thank the officers for their quick actions in saving his life.

Officer Lucero was nominated for an Unsung Hero Award because of his longtime loyalty to the Dalhart Unit, where he works closely with Windham School District’s Education Department, and to his country, which he served for nearly two years as a U.S. Army staff sergeant in Iraq.

“Exactly like all of America’s greatest heroes, including police officers, state troopers, firefighters, and members of the United States Armed Services, Officer Lucero is prepared every day to make the supreme sacrifice of giving his own life so that others may live,” said Windham School District instructor Karl M. Woods in a letter supporting Lucero’s nomination.

At the TBPP, Kelly and Farrar created a digital system to replace the method of using audiocassette tapes to record revocation hearings. The Information Technology Department employees voluntarily worked on the in-house solution after it was determined that outsourcing the job would be too costly. They were able to purchase recorders and create programs

“They conceived and implemented a solution for the recording of Administrative Revocation Hearings utilizing modern technology, which created substantial savings for this agency,” said TBPP Director of Operations Michael Billings. “This was a complex and time-consuming project, which was very successful and sets a standard for other states, or other agencies within our own state, to aspire to.”


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