The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department welcomed 25 former recruits of the Correction Officer Training Academy (COTA) Class 16–02 to the ranks of officers during a graduation ceremony held at the Aloft Boston Hotel in South Boston.


The event was attended by several members of Sheriff Tompkins’ Executive Staff including Superintendent In-Chief Michael Harris, House of Correction Superintendent Yolanda Smith, Deputy Superintendent of the House of Correction Richard McCarthy, Deputy Superintendent of the Nashua Street Jail Cliff Carney, and Assistant Deputy Superintendent and Supervisor of Training Jose Mojica, along with several members of the Training Division and Honor Guard, and the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Deputy Superintendent of Operations Robert Durgin and Director of Human Resources Robert Dillon.


Realizing their collective goal, which was set some thirteen weeks ago at the beginning of their enrollment in the Department’s rigorous officer training academy, the members of COTA Class 16-02 were sworn into service with the administration of the Correction Officer’s Oath, and stood ready to begin their careers as correction professionals.


Welcoming the officers into their new careers, Superintendent Yolanda Smith thanked the graduates and gave special praise to the people who helped to make their individual and collective achievement possible.


“I’d like to thank all the family and friends of our new officers, because your compassion and support was a very important part of their success,” said Superintendent Yolanda Smith. “Tonight, I salute you as well, because their success is yours to cherish, too.”


To become a member of the Department’s custody staff, officer candidates must complete a comprehensive training that challenges participants both physically and mentally as it prepares them for life as a correction officer. Before coming online as officers, recruits must complete instruction in subjects that include ethics and professionalism, suicide prevention, the use of force continuum, firearm safety and handling, inmate education and programming, contraband control, courtroom testimony, CORI and inmate rights and responsibilities, fire safety, CPR, sexual harassment, cross–gender supervision and report writing, among a host of others.


For the participants of the academy, the road to success may often have been a challenging one that required great focus and dedication to navigate, but it was a trip well worth taking.


“Today, the 25 men and women in COTA Class 16-02 are no longer individuals,” said COTA Class 16-02 President Chelsea White. “We have faced many challenges during past 13 weeks, but have triumphed together and learned how to work as a team. I know that this class is capable of great things. I am honored to call each and every one of you my classmates, my colleagues, my friends and my brothers and sisters. Good luck and Godspeed.”


Among the graduates of COTA Class 16-02 who received special recognition for performing over and above the norm were Robert Almanzi, who won the Drill Instructor’s Award; James Gorman, who took home the Unit Citation Award; Daniel Thom, who received the Physical Training Award; Kylie Willhoite, who garnered the Defensive Tactics Award; Jason Dunn, who earned the Top Gun Award, and Vu Pham, who earned the Academic Award with an impressive GPA (Grade Point Average) of 97.0.


Making up the balance of COTA Class 16-02 was: Christopher Allen, Joseph Baxter, Kaitlin Berardi, Luis Blanco, Laquane Bradham, Rayshawn Covington, Everton DeCastro, Michael Disabatino (COTA Class 16-02 Vice President), Robert Fish, Antonio Jones, Christos Koci, Tyrone Lovick, John Lupo, Edward Mejia, Kayla Murphy, Matthew Owens, Yesenia Roman, and Michael Scannell.


Twenty-three of the 25 newly-sworn officers have been stationed at the Suffolk County House of Correction. Two officers from COTA Class 16-02 will begin their careers in corrections at the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Department.