NDCS honors special teams at fifth annual awards ceremony

NDCS honors special teams at fifth annual awards ceremony

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) held its fifth annual Special Teams Awards Ceremony at the Staff Training Academy (STA) on Feb. 6.

“While special team members don’t work for recognition, there is no doubt that they do work worthy of recognition,” said Diane Sabatka-Rine, deputy director of Operations. “I am grateful to each one of you for what you do for NDCS. You should all be incredibly proud of the work you do, the person you are and the difference you make. While individuals will be recognized this morning, this observance is really for each and every NDCS special team member. I thank you for your personal sacrifice. I thank you for your courage. And I thank you for your commitment to keep people safe.”

Members of all NDCS special teams – the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), Special Operations Response Team (SORT), Crisis Negotiator Team (CNT), Staff Empowerment and Resiliency/Victim Education and Support (SERVES) and the Honor/Color Guard – were present for the ceremony.

“Why do we need special teams?” Director Scott R. Frakes asked during his speech. “We train everyone in this agency on how to do their job, and how to respond in an emergency. And most of the time the training and the skills acquired is all that is needed. Most of the time…

“In the world of emergency response we say that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail.’ It is in those times of emergency and during unusual/critical events when near perfection is required. It is in those times when we must have people with special skills and special training to successfully achieve the mission.”

During the ceremony, Corrections Security Administrator Mark Rumery described events that took place throughout the year, including more than 20 special team deployments.

“It’s the people,” Rumery said when explaining why he enjoys working closely with NDCS’ special teams. “Their humility, their unwavering dedication to what they do. I am humbled by these people every day.”

Rumery announced new team members and touched on the agencies and communities that NDCS special teams have worked with. He then awarded service awards before allowing team leaders to announce their internally-nominated members of the year.

“There is no requirement or expectation that any of you belong to special teams,” Director Frakes said. “Nor is there any additional compensation or enhanced status that comes with team membership. It means more time away from your family. It means completing training that is mentally and physically demanding. It’s nights without sleep, days with no rest and work weeks without weekends. So why do you do it?”

Director Frakes asked a few team members just why they do the work they do. Some responses included:

“To be part of something bigger than yourself.”
“To help protect people in times of emergency.”
“To help out my fellow team members. It’s like a big brother mentality. We look out for each other.”
“To make a difference.”
“I’m honored to represent the department in a positive way and help out the employees and their families.”
“To help people.”
“It puts me with a group of people with the same moral beliefs – a family.”

Rumery ended the ceremony by honoring the retirement of one SORT team member, before gathering for team photos and refreshments.

“’Thank you’ seems to fall short of expressing the level of appreciation that I have for the men and women of our Special Teams,” Deputy Director Sabatka-Rine said. “The work that you do is extremely challenging and, in many circumstance, life-saving. You have given of yourself for something bigger than yourself.”