By Barry Warner
Clarkstown Auxiliary police officers are community-concerned men and women from diverse backgrounds and occupations who volunteer to assist the police department by performing uniformed foot and vehicle patrols. They’re trained to provide the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police department by observing and reporting conditions requiring the services of regular police.
“The 30 Auxiliary police officers are given training every year in the use of the expandable baton, pepper spray and hand-cuffing techniques,” Captain Darryl Draper told the Rockland County Times. “To fend off an attacker, there’s a protocol we use. We call into headquarters and we verbalize to the individual to deter or avoid conflict. Then we have to use common sense to protect ourselves before we get assistance from the regular Clarkstown police officers who are there in a matter of minutes.”
“Auxiliary police officers are trained on an annual basis, under the law, and on their use of force, according to the protocol of the Clarkstown Police Department,” Draper continued. “We’re trained to apply handcuffs, if necessary. If there’s a medical emergency, we can use the AED or automatic external defibrillator. The first procedure would be to call the medics, and, if needed, we would provide assistance. We’re the ‘eyes and ears’ of the CPD. If we see or hear anything, we bring it to their attention. We don’t probe the situation, but a request for aid can be sent to the scene, because CPD has the power to take care of what’s going on. With traffic control, safety is paramount! A traffic vest has to be worn at all times and based on the time of day, we issue ‘glow-in-the-dark’ gloves for hand signals. At night, we have strobe lights to grab the attention of the drivers to help them follow the directions of the officers.”
“The patrols we do most of the time are during Gate Night, school events, town parades and we’re requested by Orangetown to assist at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” Draper continued. “When we do house checks, we get a notification from the desk sergeant, and when he gives us the house numbers, we would walk around the property, make observations to see if there was anything suspicious, make note of it, file a report or call for back-up. The Auxiliary Police get EVOC or emergency vehicle operations training the same that regular officers get every other year. Everything regarding the budget is channeled through our liaison, Lt. Steve Morgan, regarding the purchase of uniforms and other items. We wear a light blue shirt and have a different badge and patches to differentiate us from the regular Clarkstown Police. New recruits have to go through a series of interviews. The information is forwarded to the liaison and then a background check is done to make sure everything is clear. When accepted, the recruit is sworn in by the Town Clerk and then assigned to a particular squad based on need. From there, we provide him with the necessary equipment. He then has to be trained and certified with defense equipment. It’s mandatory that every single Auxiliary officer has to provide 120 volunteer hours in uniform and on details for the year, which comes to about 10 hours a month.”
“The Auxiliary Police is a paramilitary unit that supplements the work of the regular police force and the details they serve on are very specific,” said Clarkstown Police Lieutenant Steve Morgan, liaison to the Auxiliary Police. “The volunteer residents are a critical support to the mission of the CPD to provide public safety, traffic control, patrol of parking lots during the holiday shopping days and assist at school events to maintain peace and good order. There are community events where we get emergencies. There was the annual Turkey Trot at Rockland Lake where someone had a heart attack. The Auxiliary policeman immediately identified the issue and reported it in. Also, at Albertus Magnus High School, there was a medical emergency and the policeman also called headquarters through the police radio channels to get aid. Many times, civilians approach the police about something suspicious and then that issue can be reported to the CPD. In 2018, the Auxiliary Police served on 205 details or specific assignments for 5,100 hours and with training put in 8,814 hours. The Town could not afford it! They’re a valuable resource to this community. This is one of the more cohesive and professionally trained Auxiliary Police units that I am aware of.”
“We used the Auxiliary Police recently at the JCC in West Nyack, when there was an event to try to get the community together after the shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagogue,” Clarkstown Information Officer Detective Peter Walker said. “The room was filled to capacity and all of the traffic was handled by the Clarkstown Auxiliary Police. To prevent traffic delays and get everyone out of there, they did a terrific job because there were many more cars than we anticipated. Having the auxiliaries out there and taking care of an issue that could have drained four or five policemen off the road to handle. It’s a great asset to the chief to be able to use additional resources provided by the Auxiliary Police. The Clarkstown area comprises 40 square miles with 90,000 residents.”
“Once a year, we have an annual awards dinner, which is a great event for us,” Draper said. “We recognize members of the department for their service based on the numbers of hours. We have a lot of members who have served for more than 25 years. During the summer, we have a picnic and during the winter, we have a holiday party. We have a wonderful relationship with CPD that includes a lot of good communication and camaraderie,” said Captain Draper.
“When I emigrated to this country, I landed in Rockland County and New City, and I have been here ever since,” Auxiliary Captain Draper concluded. “This is the Town where I started my career, plus my children were born and educated in Clarkstown. I volunteer because I have a vested interest in sustaining this Town for myself and my family and I have built a lot of friendships here.”
For additional information about the Clarkstown Auxiliary Police or to volunteer, conact Captain Draper at 845-639-5887.