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DHS Recognizes Peace Officers at Annual Medal Day Ceremony

On Wednesday, June 19, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS)’ recognized approximately 60 agency Peace Officers at the annual Medal Day Ceremony, held on the campus of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The officers were joined at the ceremony by Commissioner Ovesey, Deputy Commissioner for Security & Emergency Operations Michael Gagliardi and their peers, as they reflected on the achievements of the past year. Members of the agency’s Executive Staff were also on-hand, in addition to the division’s Assistant Commissioner, Glenn Panazzolo, Deputy Chief Marlene Hodge and Director of Peace Officers Joseph Garcia.

During the event, officers were recognized for accomplishments such as length of service, admirable action on the job and promotions. These acknowledgements also included several instances of life-saving measures, demonstrating the unyielding commitment of the officers to aid clients during times of need.

This year, the division’s Prevention Assistance & Temporary Housing (PATH) Unit was awarded the prestigious Unit Citation for its exceptional efforts to serve families who are applying for shelter. 

Working at the “front door” of the families with children shelter system, the PATH Unit bears the critically-important task of protecting some of the youngest and most vulnerable clients. In carrying out this aim, the officers must delicately balance high levels of vigilance and law enforcement instincts, with an approachable demeanor and compassionate outlook.

Additionally, Excellent Duty Awards were presented to approximately one dozen officers, who astutely and bravely sprung into action to save the lives of clients during emergency situations.

“I am so incredibly honored to be here today, and to have the opportunity to lead you in the weeks and months ahead,” Commissioner Ovesey said to the officers. “The work that you do is essential to our agency and to the mission that we fulfill on a daily basis. We can’t thank you enough for your service and congratulate you sincerely on your tremendous accomplishments.”

Although she had previously attended Medal Day as the agency’s General Counsel, Commissioner Ovesey was thrilled to preside over the impressive ceremony for the first time in her new role. This year’s event was particularly special, as it marked the 20th anniversary of DHS’ existence. Furthermore, continuing the division’s tradition, several civilian members of DHS’ staff were also recognized for their unyielding support to the Peace Officer program.

“There is no shortage to the number of diverse and complex issues that our Peace Officers handle every day,” said Deputy Commissioner Gagliardi. “Although serving as an officer comes with great challenge and responsibility, the men and women here today have proven their commitment to DHS staff members and clients alike. They are always present during times of need, ready and willing to assist in any and all ways possible.” 

Over the years, DHS’ force of approximately 400 Peace Officers has not only been highly effective at promoting security within agency facilities, but has also revolutionized methods of policing within a social services framework, living by the motto, “policing with compassion.” Above all else, Peace Officers pledge to maintain the public peace, value human life, respect each individual and render services with courtesy, pride and civility, while displaying the highest standard of integrity. Medal Day is the ultimate reflection of this exceptional code of conduct.

DHS Congratulates this year’s Medal Day awardees and sincerely thanks all of our Peace Officers for their outstanding service.