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Employee-driven Department of Correction competition to showcase Officers’ skills, encourage physical fitness, boost pride

Department of Correction | Date Posted: Monday, April 13, 2015



Dover – This spring the Delaware Department of Correction will launch a one-day competition that tests Correctional Officers and Probation Officers on their level of proficiency in a variety of job-related skills. The Guardian Shield Challenge is the first and only challenge of its kind for correctional employees and was established voluntarily by correctional officers, with the strong support of the Department’s leadership. The challenge, which begins April 27, is designed to test each participant’s level of skill in physical fitness, weapon marksmanship, hands-on core skills, and job knowledge. Every competitor who successfully passes all phases of the challenge earns the Guardian Shield Award and a certificate of achievement acknowledging their success in meeting these high standards.

Lt. George H. Lancaster Jr., a Correctional Officer assigned to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, was the creator and founder of the Guardian Shield Challenge. Lt. Lancaster said “I wanted our Correctional Officers and Probation Officers who come to work every day and perform their duties with excellence to have an opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism and the personal pride they have for their job in corrections. I thought that this challenge would provide them with additional motivation to practice and improve their physical fitness and job skills beyond the classroom and physical training they receive on the job.”

Lt. Lancaster solicited the help of fellow Correctional Officers who worked together for several months on their own time to develop the Guardian Shield Challenge. Members of the Guardian Shield Committee – Lt. Samuel Bane, Weapons Coordinator; Lt. Jason Schaffer, Senior Evaluator; Lt. Stephen Howard, Physical Fitness Coordinator; and Sgt. George Lancaster IV, Event Coordinator – were instrumental in building the program from concept to reality.

Commissioner Robert Coupe strongly supports the competition and he recognized the extraordinary personal commitment of the Officers who took the initiative to develop this program. “The Guardian Shield Challenge fits perfectly with our goal to improve physical fitness across the Delaware Department of Correction,” Coupe said. “We are proud of the leadership and motivation the volunteer Officers have shown in creating the Guardian Shield Challenge.”

Department of Correction employees will be encouraged to compete in the Guardian Shield Challenge annually to demonstrate that they have maintained this high level of proficiency in their skills and earn the privilege to continue to wear the Guardian Shield award pin. While this year’s Guardian Shield Challenge is restricted to Delaware Department of Correction employees, there are plans to expand the program next year. To learn more about the Guardian Shield Challenge, please visit www.guardianshieldchallenge.org. Individuals who have questions about the Guardian Shield Challenge or have an interest in replicating this program for their organization can contact program organizers at guardianshieldchallenge@yahoo.com.

Guard Shield Challenge CommitteeMembers of the Guardian Shield Committee, with Department of Correction leadership. Pictured above, from left to right: Deputy Commissioner Perry Phelps, Cpl. Nathan Atherholt, Sgt. Justin Atherholt, Officer Venus Abney, Officer James Balsbaugh, Lt. Samuel Bane, Sgt. George H. Lancaster IV, Lt. George H. Lancaster, Jr., Officer Nicholas Brown, Lt. Jason Schaffer, Sgt. David Schmid, Officer Justin Perkins, Sgt. Edward Madigan, St. Chaise Payson, and Commissioner Robert Coupe.

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Employee-driven Department of Correction competition to showcase Officers’ skills, encourage physical fitness, boost pride

Department of Correction | Date Posted: Monday, April 13, 2015



Dover – This spring the Delaware Department of Correction will launch a one-day competition that tests Correctional Officers and Probation Officers on their level of proficiency in a variety of job-related skills. The Guardian Shield Challenge is the first and only challenge of its kind for correctional employees and was established voluntarily by correctional officers, with the strong support of the Department’s leadership. The challenge, which begins April 27, is designed to test each participant’s level of skill in physical fitness, weapon marksmanship, hands-on core skills, and job knowledge. Every competitor who successfully passes all phases of the challenge earns the Guardian Shield Award and a certificate of achievement acknowledging their success in meeting these high standards.

Lt. George H. Lancaster Jr., a Correctional Officer assigned to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, was the creator and founder of the Guardian Shield Challenge. Lt. Lancaster said “I wanted our Correctional Officers and Probation Officers who come to work every day and perform their duties with excellence to have an opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism and the personal pride they have for their job in corrections. I thought that this challenge would provide them with additional motivation to practice and improve their physical fitness and job skills beyond the classroom and physical training they receive on the job.”

Lt. Lancaster solicited the help of fellow Correctional Officers who worked together for several months on their own time to develop the Guardian Shield Challenge. Members of the Guardian Shield Committee – Lt. Samuel Bane, Weapons Coordinator; Lt. Jason Schaffer, Senior Evaluator; Lt. Stephen Howard, Physical Fitness Coordinator; and Sgt. George Lancaster IV, Event Coordinator – were instrumental in building the program from concept to reality.

Commissioner Robert Coupe strongly supports the competition and he recognized the extraordinary personal commitment of the Officers who took the initiative to develop this program. “The Guardian Shield Challenge fits perfectly with our goal to improve physical fitness across the Delaware Department of Correction,” Coupe said. “We are proud of the leadership and motivation the volunteer Officers have shown in creating the Guardian Shield Challenge.”

Department of Correction employees will be encouraged to compete in the Guardian Shield Challenge annually to demonstrate that they have maintained this high level of proficiency in their skills and earn the privilege to continue to wear the Guardian Shield award pin. While this year’s Guardian Shield Challenge is restricted to Delaware Department of Correction employees, there are plans to expand the program next year. To learn more about the Guardian Shield Challenge, please visit www.guardianshieldchallenge.org. Individuals who have questions about the Guardian Shield Challenge or have an interest in replicating this program for their organization can contact program organizers at guardianshieldchallenge@yahoo.com.

Guard Shield Challenge CommitteeMembers of the Guardian Shield Committee, with Department of Correction leadership. Pictured above, from left to right: Deputy Commissioner Perry Phelps, Cpl. Nathan Atherholt, Sgt. Justin Atherholt, Officer Venus Abney, Officer James Balsbaugh, Lt. Samuel Bane, Sgt. George H. Lancaster IV, Lt. George H. Lancaster, Jr., Officer Nicholas Brown, Lt. Jason Schaffer, Sgt. David Schmid, Officer Justin Perkins, Sgt. Edward Madigan, St. Chaise Payson, and Commissioner Robert Coupe.

# # #

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Related Topics:  


Graphic that represents delaware news on a mobile phone

Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

Here you can subscribe to future news updates.