NYC Department of Correction

Hart Island Handover Ceremony, Headquarters

Chief of Department Kenneth Stukes

  • As Chief of Department, the transition of Hart Island represents a poignant moment for myself and this agency. When I joined the department over 30 years ago, I had no idea just how key this island was to the city’s existence. Growing up, this place was simply knowns as Potter’s Field, but it wasn’t until I began my career here that I realized this place was more than just a burial site, it was a lifeline to the community.


  • As we know, 2020 was a year of epic levels of death and tragedy. And while we personally grappled with unspeakable devastation and the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic, we collectively united to provide support to the city at one of the most critical periods in our history. Today and everyday, you all make me proud to wear this uniform. What I witnessed here is unspeakable strength, and unfaltering commitment to service and for that, I salute you.

  • While our work here is now done, let us take with us the memories of this place. Let us remember the families we assisted, the services we provided and the bonds that were formed in the wake of disaster. Each of you took an oath of Honesty, Loyalty and Integrity, and I can proudly say, you’ve fulfilled your civic obligation to this city, our department and to the deceased.


  • Thank you again. You made us proud!