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New York State

Police

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The Centennial Celebration of Service A S P E C I A L P U B L I CAT I O N O F T H E

S U L L I VA N C O U N T Y D E M O C R AT APRIL 2017


Editorial fficially passed into legislation on April 11, 1917 by the New York State Legislature, the State Police have been protecting the citizenry of the Empire State for 100 years. The two women who started the movement for the State Police – Miss Moyca Newell and her friend, author Katherine Mayo – wanted the State Police to be an organization dedicated to providing police protection to all of the state’s rural areas. And while the murder of their employee and friend went unsolved, their foresight created what is considered one of the best and most highly-trained police agencies in the country. Men and women, along with many K-9 officers, serve side-by-side on a daily basis to protect New York State’s 8.4 million residents and its millions of visitors from would-be criminals and to help solve crimes after they occur. They have been involved in many high-profile investigations, manhunts and criminal cases, usually as the lead agency in these cases. Their history of professional training and keeping at the forefront of

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Police at 100

Publisher Fred W. Stabbert III • Senior Editor Dan Hust • Editor Carol Montana • Design and Layout Rosalie Mycka • Sports Editor Joseph Abraham • Reporters Jeanne Sager,Matthew Shorthall, Kaitlyn Carney, Kathy Daley, Richard Ross • Advertising Director Liz Tucker • Advertising Coordinator Janice Vooght •Advertising Representatives Barbara Matos, April Spruill and Susan Panella • Business Manager Susan Owens • Business DepartmentPatricia Biedinger • Telemarketing Coordinator Michelle Reynolds • Monticello Office Manager Margaret Bruetsch • Production Associates Ruth Huggler, Elizabeth Finnegan, Petra Duffy, Nyssa Calkin and Claire Humbert • Circulation and Distribution Linda Davis, Kohloa Zaitsha, Billy Smith and Phil Grisafe

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Acknowledgements

The Sullivan County Democrat gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the following people for their many contributions to this publication: Captain Brian J. Shortall, Zone Commander at the state police’s Liberty barracks. Thomas Mungeer, PBA President Dan Scribner, Staff Inspector at the State Police Headquarters in Albany (retired). Michael Beers, Sergeant/SC, State Police Stewart Airport John Conway, Sullivan County Historian

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changes in police technology make them ready to work on any case which may arise. In June, 2015, hundreds of State Police were involved in a manhunt for two prisoners who escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. Both men, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were captured, one dead and one alive. It was this case which highlighted the agency’s commitment to protecting the residents of the state and putting its resources to bear on society’s most dangerous offenders. As the State Police celebrate its centennial, it’s time to honor all those who have put on the uniform to help protect its citizens and to thank them for 100 years of dedicated, selfless and courageous service to our state. We would like to especially acknowledge the 130 men and women who have died in the line of duty while serving in the state police. Their motto, “Excellence through Knowledge,” is practiced daily by the 4,900 sworn state troopers across the state. Congratulations on your centennial and thank you for a job well done.

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INSIDE JOB Captain Brian J. Shortall By Joseph Abraham

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aptain Brian J. Shortall serves as the Zone Commander at the New York State Police’s Liberty barracks. He started with the State Police on October 1, 1990, and is currently in his 27th year with them, spending seven years as a Trooper assigned to Wurtsboro, before becoming an Investigator. Shortall’s father was in the U.S. Navy for 22 years, so he was born in Honolulu, Hi. In 1969, around seven or eight years of age, Shortall and his family relocated to Sullivan County, first living in Monticello, before settling in Parksville. He graduated from Liberty High School, and then spent four years with the U.S. Air

Force. On what motivated him to become a Trooper, Shortall said, “Growing up here, I worked at all the hotels in the area. You saw Troopers there all the time. There are just so many opportunities with the state police. I wanted to go to a bigger agency [as opposed to a small police force] because there was more of an opportunity to do different types of jobs and you get to see so much.” After returning from the Air Force, Shortall earned an Associate degree in Applied Science from SUNY Sullivan. While with the State Police he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from SUNY Empire State and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from SUNY Albany. After spending less than four years as an

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Joseph Abraham | Democrat

Captain Brian J. Shortall

Investigator, Shortall was promoted to Sergeant in 2002, then to Lieutenant/BCI in 2006, and to Captain/BCI in 2013. He also took outside training courses for Arson Investigator and Polygraph Examiner. In addition to his duties as Zone Commander, Shortall has spent the last three years teaching new lieutenants leadership development at the mandatory training they undergo upon being promoted. He focuses on community relations, stressing its importance and the necessity of developing a good relationship with the community before there is a problem. “It’s pretty impressive,” Shortall remarked about the NYSP’s 100th anniversary. “The traditions that pass on. We are living on the legacy of the Troopers before us. Everyone who comes in looks to continue the reputation of the state police the way it is.”

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INSIDE JOB PBA President - Thomas H. Mungeer By Joseph Abraham

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om Mungeer is the President of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) of New York State Troopers Inc., the labor union representing 3800 uniformed New York State troopers ranging from the rank of Trooper up to and including the rank of Major. The PBA President since 2009, Mungeer travels to Albany between four and five days a week. He first joined the State Police on September 27, 1993 and was assigned to the Liberty barracks. He is currently in his 24th year. Mungeer has had a lifelong interest in ge-

nealogy and history. His family is going on 10 generations living in the Liberty area. “It’s important to remember where we came from,� Mungeer said. He graduated from Liberty High School in 1987 before attending Ithaca College where he ran track and played football while earning a degree in finance. Mungeer is the editor-in-chief of PBA Trooper, a twice-yearly magazine, and he writes an historical piece for each edition. He’s currently finishing up a book about the 232 original state troopers from 1917, describing who they were, what they did with the state police and what they went on to do.

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“The state police is 100 years old,” Mungeer said. “Those of us who wear the uniform today, are indebted to those who came before us. The reputation and good name was started decades before me, so I’m standing on their shoulders. They formed the foundation. I believe it’s extremely important that we don’t forget who made the sacrifices before us. Their stories should be written down and remembered.” Last year was an election year for PBA President and one of Mungeer’s reasons for wanting to run again was being able to see the 100th anniversary. He has a wife, Cindi, and six children, Peter, Kevin, Thomas, Nicholas, Jillian and Jocelyn. His parents Garfield and Sharon reside in Parksville. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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INSIDE JOB Dan Scribner By Joseph Abraham

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an Scribner became a Trooper with New York State Police in June 1966, serving in Troops C, K and F. He became a Sergeant in 1971, a Station Commander in 1972, a Zone Sergeant in 1974, a Uniform Lieutenant in 1977 and a BCI Lieutenant in 1984. During his tenure in Troop F he served in Sullivan County as the Ferndale Station Commander in 1973 and 1974 and as the Zone One Commander from 1978 until 1983. In 1987, he was promoted to BCI Captain in charge of the statewide Violent Felony Warrant Squad, then to Major and Troop K Com-

mander. From 1991 through 1992, Scribner served as a Staff Inspector at the state police headquarters in Albany. Scribner retired from the state police in 1992. He CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS then spent 18 years Dan Scribner with the Orange County Districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Attorney Office as the Chief Investigator. Scribner has a love of history, majoring in it at Hartwick College in Oneonta. Before enlisting in the state police, Scribner spent a year teaching history at Valley Central High School.

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“Troopers are ... from the very first days of training ... immersed in the history and traditions of the State Police,” Scribner said. The New York State Police was one of the first state police agencies. In 1917, Colonel George F. Chandler was tapped by the governor to form the state police, serving as the Superintendent. He built the state police from scratch. In 1992, Scribner was put in charge of the statewide 75th anniversary celebration for the State Police and during that time, he noted that, “... I learned more state police history than I had previously.” “I believe most members of the State Police are immensely proud of the organization and any role they played in it,” Scribner said.

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In Memoriam When you arrive at the State Police’s Liberty barracks, you cannot miss this memorial honoring those who lost their lives in the line of duty. It was constructed by Trooper Matthew Johnstone and Trooper Tom Mungeer in 1997 following the lineof-duty death of Trooper Nate Burroughs.

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Those who died in service Jeffry T. Edelson, Troop “F” November 23, 2003 Sergeant Jeffry T. Edelson, 34, was killed on November 23, 2003 in a traffic accident. Sergeant Edelson was pursuing a violator on State Route 55, just east of his

assigned Station, when he lost control of his Troop Car and struck a tree. Sergeant Edelson was a 6-year veteran of the State Police and assigned to SP Liberty at the time of his death.

Nathaniel Burroughs, Troop “F”, February 14, 1997 Trooper Nathaniel Burroughs was fatally injured while investigating a one-car motor vehicle accident on Route 17 in the Town of Mamakating during hazardous weather conditions. Trooper Burroughs had taken immediate steps to secure the safety of the lone operator/occupant of the damaged vehicle by activating his emergency lighting and protecting

the scene with his Troop Car. As Trooper Burroughs began interviewing the driver in front of the damaged car, a tractor-trailer skidded off the slick, ice-covered road into the Troop Car and forced it into the initial car, which struck the two men. Both men were thrown a considerable distance. Trooper Burroughs died from his injuries a short time later at Horton Memorial Hospital. Trooper Burroughs was a 10-year veteran and had served exclusively with Troop “F”. He was assigned to SP Wurtsboro at the time of his death.

Joseph T. Aversa, Troop “H” (DETF), March 5, 1990 On March 5, 1990 at 3:35 p.m., Investigator Joseph Aversa, age 31, was fatally wounded and two New York City Police Department detectives were shot in an exchange of gunfire with an armed assailant who attempted to rob one of the officers during a narcotics operation. Investigator

Aversa, a member of the New York City Drug Enforcement Task Force, was engaged in a “buy-bust” operation, which involved the purchase of a large quantity of cocaine. Investigator Aversa was a six-year veteran of the NYSP at the time of his death.

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robbery. Revenge is theorized as the motive for the shooting as the assailant had previously been arrested by Investigator Snyder for burglary, unlawful imprisonment and menacing. The subject later committed suicide. Investigator Snyder was a decorated Marine veteran who served in Vietnam. He joined the State Police in 1970 and was assigned to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at Wurtsboro at the time of his death.

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The first Deputy’s funeral detail By Dan Scribner

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obert Denman, a native of Livingston Manor, who rose through the ranks of the New York State Police to the second highest post in that law enforcement body, died Sunday, August 15, 1976 at the summer home he maintained at Denman Mountain, near his native village. He was 65. ~~~~~~~ I was the NCO in charge of the State Police burial detail. As stated, the First Deputy was to be interred at a cemetery near where he had grown up. “Rural” would be an understatement. The cemetery was about 15 miles east of Nowhere Center. The grave had been dug perhaps a bit wider than was required. Since it was necessary for the detail members to stand close to each side of the casket both to place the casket on the burial device and to fold the flag, the cemetery caretaker located some long two by tens of questionable vintage and laid one on each side of the open grave. As the pallbearers shuffled onto the boards to place the casket on the burial device, there was considerable bounce and some ominous creaking. Being the third person on my side to shuffle onto the board, I was acutely aware of an increase in the volume of the creaking. It occurred to me that I might be arriving at the First Dep’s final destination before he did. The boards held, but the flag was folded in record time and came out looking more like a tri-colored wad than a triangle. The rest of the detail waited with some trepidation while I exited the board to present the folded flag to the major. I believe the “slow salute” was executed somewhat more quickly than prescribed.

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The preceding item was included in the Democrat’s Down the Decades column from August of 1976. N E W YO R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

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The History of the New York State Police By Tom Mungeer n Aug. 2, 1913, Sam Howell, a foreman for a construction firm, was shot during an attempted robbery over the payroll for his crew in rural Bedford Hills, NY. He escaped, delivered the payroll and identified two of his assailants. He died from his wounds two days later. The slow moving machinery of the local constable and county sheriff failed to apprehend the men and Howell’s employer, Miss Marjorie Moyca Newell Joseph Higgins Riseley III was from Cooks Falls, NY and was misand her friend, the author Katherine takenly listed as being from Glens Falls when the results of the first Mayo, began a quest to organize a test were published. He was one of the first 25 Troopers who restate police force. ported to Camp Newayo on June 20, 1917. He resigned after Oct. In Jan. 1917 Katherine Mayo pub- 1918 and became editor of The Liberty Register, which was next to lished “Justice For All: The Story of Otto Hillig's photo studio on Main St. the Pennsylvania State Police,” her first social reform book, which was troops; A - Batavia, D – Onondaga Valley, G meant to bring the public’s attention for the Troy, K – White Plains. need of a state police force in New York. The original troop setup had Sullivan On April 11, 1917 following three years of County divided in two with a hypothetical battling forces bent on defeating the state poline drawn from Callicoon to Kingston, the lice concept such as organized labor, Gov. area north of Liberty patrolled by Troopers Charles S. Whitman signed the legislation, cre- from their headquarters in Troop G – Troy ating the Department of State Police and mak- and the area south patrolled by Troopers from ing the dream of the two women a reality. their headquarters in Troop K – White Plains. On May 1, 1917 Gov. Whitman appointed Between Dec 4-17, 1917 two Troopers from Kingston physician Maj. George Fletcher Troop K were reported to have been paChandler as the first superintendent of the trolling Monticello and vicinity resulting in 16 New York State Police. Chandler almost imarrests for violation of the vehicle and traffic mediately refers to his new organization as law, resulting in numerous fines. State Troopers, the first time the term TroopIn August 1918 Troop K Troopers Charles R. ers was used in referring to a state policeman. Dykeman, Clarence Brophy, Howard Lord On June 20, 1917 the first recruits arrive at and Samuel Freeman patrolled the Sullivan Camp Newayo, a training ground in upstate County Fair in Monticello. Manlius. The name Newayo was derived from In May 1919 a permanent station was the names of the two women responsible for opened in Monticello. Three Troopers were the creation of the state police. Among the initially assigned to patrol out of the station; recruits is Cooks Falls native, Joseph H. RiseTroopers Arthur P. Broadfield and Joseph B. ley, III. Lynch of Poughkeepsie and James J. MontOn Sept. 6, 1917 the new Troopers comgomery of Troy. plete their training and ride to the state fairJohn A. Hopkins, the first Trooper sworn grounds, their first assignment. Following its into the organization in 1917, also becomes a completion, the men, 58 per troop, head in mainstay in the Monticello area starting in four different directions to their respective 1919. On Jan. 12, 1920, he married Mary C. 14

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and traffic law, he would raise his arm signaling his partner. The second Trooper would ride into the road, stop the car and arrest the driver. The violator would be promptly escorted to the nearest justice of the peace for arraignment. The men tried not to ride further than 20 miles per day so as to not over tire their mounts. A Trooper was In August 1963, Troopers John Krom and Richard Rauch were operating out of paid $2.47 per day and the State Police barracks in Ferndale. in addition he was alEngelmann, daughter of village of Monticello lotted daily 50 cents for breakfast, 75 cents for President Joseph and Martha Engelmann. lunch and dinner respectively, 50 cents for On June 1, 1921 Sullivan County becomes lodging and $1.30 for care of his horse. The part of the newly formed 10-county Troop C Troopers were required to obtain a postmark (Schuyler, Chemung, Tompkins, Tioga, from each postmaster on their route to prove Broome, Chenango, Otsego, Delaware, Sullithat they were there. Each evening they van and Ulster) under the command of Capt. would stop at an inn or farm and contact the Daniel E. Fox. Fox was an original Trooper barracks and notify them of their whereand had married Elizabeth L. Smith, whose abouts. Before the substations were estabfamily was originally from Monticello, on June lished, men could be away from the barracks 24, 1919. as long as a month at a time. On June 15, 1921 fifty Western saddle One of Capt. Fox’s original trick riders was horses arrived to be used for mounted patrol Trooper Thomas J. Mangan. Born in Ireland duty. The only motorized equipment conand raised in Troy, he had enlisted in March sisted of four automobiles. 1919 and soon rose through the ranks to serIn September 1922, Troop C won first honor geant in 1927. Early in his career he had been in horsemanship competition at the New York stationed at Monticello and by 1929 he was State Fair for the Col. George F. Chandler troplaced in charge of the new Liberty substaphy against Troops G and B. This was the betion. He retired in 1943. ginning of the famous Troop C Rough Riding A substation was created in Wurtsboro in Team under the direction of Captain Fox. The 1926 due to the increased traffic on Route 17. team became internationally acclaimed as the That year, horses were partly substituted by peer of all rough riders. To add to the coloropen touring cars for patrol purposes. fulness of the team, Captain Fox toured the By 1930, besides the aforementioned Libcountry in search of distinctive horses and his erty, Monticello and Wurtsboro substations, search took him to Montana where he found Troopers also operated out of one in Callisome spotted ponies. Within a month the coon, which was one of the last locations in whole troop was outfitted with the spotted the state patrolled mainly on horseback. variety and they soon became known In 1931, records indicate that between throughout the state as the "Spotted Horse March and October of that year, Troopers Troop." Their last public appearance was durRobert J. “Bob” Flynn and William G. “Bill” ing the summer of 1940 at the Boy Scout JamLeins, patrolled out of the Callicoon substaboree in Cooperstown. tion. Both Troopers had enlisted in 1927. In the early patrol days in Sullivan County, Flynn was born and raised in Walton while Troopers would travel in pairs from their subLeins was born in New York City but had station with the member in charge riding moved to Callicoon Center in 1909 following about 100 feet ahead on the road. When the his father Philip’s retirement after 22 years lead Trooper spotted a violation of the vehicle continued on page 16 APRIL 2017

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Troop C Rough Riders. Tpr. Robert Flynn is among them. Being a Rough Rider meant some bumps and bruises. He was once hurt while riding in an exhibition in Oneonta when his foot got caught in the stirrup resulting in a six week stay in the hospital. Effects of other injuries meant an additional three weeks and an operation at an Albany hospital. continued from page 15

with the New York City Police Department. Assigned horses #15 and #66, the two Troopers would average approximately 15 miles per day, patrolling to Roscoe, Livingston Manor, Jeffersonville, Kenoza Lake, Bethel and White Lake, into the Beaverkill Valley and as far as Cooks Falls. Extended patrols would sometimes take them away for nearly a week from Callicoon. During these eight months, they investigated a report of a stolen bicycle in Roscoe, a burglary of a Callicoon residence, they arrested an intoxicated driver, responded to a murder of a 14-year-old boy investigation in Grooville which resulted in the arrest and eventual conviction of a 37-year-old hermit. They stopped a 12-year-old boy driving his father’s vehicle in Jeffersonville and arranged with the county to provide much needed food to five destitute families in Long Eddy. In North Branch, they confiscated a slot machine and were detailed and witnessed the beginning of Otto Hillig’s historical trans-Atlantic flight from the Liberty Golf Club in June. In July, they traded their horses for a motorcycle (Motorcycle #59) and averaged 100 miles per day on patrol with the aid of petro. By October, the horses were brought back from Sidney and exchanged for the motorcycle. One remarkable thing to note is that during this entire time, they didn’t have any days off. In fact, Troopers at this time received only two weeks of vacation annually and they had to be taken between November 15 and April 15. The year 1931 was also when Flynn met and married Miss Millicent Schadt of Jeffersonville. 16

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Bill Leins married Miss Irene O’Keefe of Parksville in 1935. By 1932, the Callicoon station was closed and a permanent Roscoe station was created, manned by Corporal William M. Waldron and Tpr. Flynn. The following year, the Liberty station was shifted to Harris and in June 1937, the Narrowsburg station was opened and Trooper Leins was assigned there. At one time there were temporary stations opened in both Hurleyville and Woodbourne during the busy summer months. In 1938, Sullivan County was patrolled by the following: Harris – Sgt. Mangan and Tpr. William S. Elliott Wurtsboro – Tprs. Carroll W. Seymour and Raymond Dalrymple Roscoe – Cpls. William M. Waldron and Flynn Narrowsburg – Tprs. Leins and William F. Driscoll who was a White Lake native Monticello – Tprs. Cecil H. Metcalfe and Frank R. “Scout” Maish During WWII, manpower was severely depleted as 305 men left the State Police for military service. Six made the ultimate sacrifice including Trooper Milton Ratner of Ferndale. Trooper Ratner, 27, was killed in action over Sicily during a bombing mission on July 11, 1943. One Trooper who returned from the war was Trooper John F. Kelly of Liberty. Trooper Kelly, who was originally stationed in Troop APRIL 2017


Above and cover: Trooper Bill Leins in 1930. At right: Tpr. Salvatore B. Indelicato, 1956 Thruway Patrol. Sal was a longtime member of Troop F, retiring after 38 years in 1990 as a Senior Investigator. He was a resident of Cochecton and Town Supervisor there for 12 years.

D before the war, transferred to Troop C upon his discharge. There he worked with his uncle Bill Leins. He eventually left the State Police to take a better paying job with the Dept. of Corrections. The Harris station was closed in 1944 and operations were moved to Ferndale. The Ferndale station occupied at least four different locations along Old State Route 17 over the next 47 years. In 1947 the roster for SP Ferndale included the following: Sergeants William M. Waldron and Robert E. Denman; Corporal William B. Martin; Troopers William G. Leins, John J. Devine, Thomas P. Herron and Joseph F. Viskocil. In 1954 another Robert J. Flynn wore the uniform of a New York State Trooper. Trooper Flynn, following in his fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s footsteps two years after his retirement, was also assigned to Troop C. He retired in 1976 in Ferndale with the rank of lieutenant. As zone commander he was in charge of state police operations in Sullivan County. He later served as the Sullivan County Sheriff from 1976 until 1982. In 1958 Troopers were finally allowed to move out of the barracks and go home after their shifts were completed. Their week had consisted of 126 hours on duty with two 21hour pass days. The new schedule consisted of five 12-hour days and two 24-hours pass days per week. In May 1963, the Narrowsburg, Roscoe and Wurtsboro substations were closed as part of a consolidation program. SP Ferndale became the largest station in the state in terms APRIL 2017

of personnel with 36 uniformed men and 12 assigned to the BCI. The building in which they moved to would be their home until 1991. August 12, 1968 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Ferndale becomes Zone One Headquarters of the newly formed Troop F. Zone One was made up of the area entirely within the borders of Sullivan County. In 1974, the Narrowsburg, Roscoe and Wurtsboro substations were reopened and remain open today. In October 1991, SP Ferndale was closed and SP Liberty was opened.

Retired NYSP Lt. Bob Flynn looks at memorabilia collected by his father, Sgt. Robert J. Flynn, during the elder Flynn's career (1927-52). Looking on is Bob's son and Robert's grandson, Lt. Bob Flynn of the NYCDEP. N E W YO R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

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Gray Riders Remembered

Above: Trooper Robert Flynn, circa 1954 Left: Sergeant Thomas Mangan served prominently during the Prohibition Era. Below left: Troopers Carl W. Robke and John D. Crodelle stand over Tpr. Allan E. Newkirk at SP Ferndale May 1964. Below: The Gray Rider Monument in Albany honors all men and women who have worn the uniform of the New York State Police - Honor, Integrity, Tradition.

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Sullivan County and the history of State Police satellite offices By Daniel M. Scribner n 1963, concurrent with many other changes made by a new administration, the number of state police stations statewide was reduced from 126 to 100. In Sullivan County, the Narrowsburg, Roscoe and Wurtsboro stations were closed. Troopers assigned to those stations were transferred to the only remaining barracks in Sullivan County, which was in Ferndale. In theory, patrol coverage would not be affected. Since the three shifts each overlapped by a half hour, each car could be relieved on post by the next shift. What had not been taken into account was what would happen when patrols made arrests, especially at the far reaches of the county. Troopers would have to transport their prisoners to Ferndale for processing, then back to a town

I

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N E W Y O R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

or village magistrate for arraignment, then to the county jail. This process could take several hours during which the post was left uncovered. The area most greatly impacted was the busy eastern end of the county â&#x20AC;&#x201C; eastern Thompson, Mamakating, Wurtsboro and Bloomingburg. In 1972 the Ferndale Station Commander was Sergeant Dan Scribner. He lived in Wurtsboro and was acutely aware of the problem. Sergeant Scribner approached his next door neighbor, Mamakating Town Supervisor Dennis Greenwald, with a proposition: If the state police could put a fingerprinting stand, a mug-shot camera and a Breathalyzer in the town hall it would eliminate the need to return to Ferndale to process many of the arrests. After securing enthusiastic support APRIL 2017


Facing page: The Ferndale barracks of the New York State Police in 1967, the year before it became the Zone One Headquarters of the new Troop F. The barracks closed in 1991 when the Headquarters was moved to Liberty. Above: The Woodbourne barracks, pictured in 1943, was one of the temporary satellite offices opened during the busy summer months. Left: In 1933, the Liberty station was shifted to Harris (pictured during the early ‘40s). It remained opened until 1944.

from Greenwald, the proposal was submitted and approved by the Troop F Commander, Major Ray Kisor. The setup worked so well that a year later Supervisor Greenwald suggested that the town could rent some office space for the State Police if arrangements could be made to have the Troopers report directly to the office rather than traveling to and from Ferndale at shift change. Implementation of the idea required several logistical and administrative innovations, the most complicated of which was the establishment of a record keeping system which would allow the Troopers assigned to the new satellite office to record and report their activities to Ferndale remotely rather than returning to the station. (By today’s standards the solutions were archaic; APRIL 2017

today’s Trooper can do that and more from the front seat of their troop car.) A comprehensive plan was submitted to the Major who forwarded it to State Police headquarters with his endorsement. Early in 1974 approval of the concept was received from Albany and satellite offices were quickly established, not only in Wurtsboro, but also in Narrowsburg and Roscoe. The idea quickly spread throughout Troop F and then across the state. Today there are 80 satellite offices statewide. Some are small – two or three troopers working out of a room or two in a municipal building or firehouse. At the other end of the spectrum are satellites such as today’s Wurtsboro Satellite, where 19 troopers, sergeants and investigators work out of a modern barracks provided by the Town of Mamakating. Dan Scribner is a retired Inspector with the NYSP, and served Troop K as Troop Commander between 1987 and 1990. N E W YO R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

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Troop Map

49969

There are 11 Troop divisions on the current NYSP map. The only Troop not visible on this image is Troop T, which is the Troop covering the New York State Thruway. All Troops are broken down into Zones, and they can number between 2 and 4 Zones per Troop. Troop F has three zones. Zone 1 covers all of Sullivan County, Zone 2 covers Orange & Rockland, and Zone 3 covers Ulster and Greene. Each Zone has a Captain that answers to the Troop Commander (Major). Each Zone is further broken down into stations or satellites.

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N E W Y O R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

APRIL 2017


Congratulations on 100 Years of Service to the People of New York, and especially Sullivan County.

We truly appreciate all you do day-in and day-out to keep our county and its citizens safe. From all your friends at the S U L L I VA N C O U N T Y

“Celebrating 125 Years of Community Journalism”

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N E W YO R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

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The trooper and the Harley

By John Conway

ete Gromacki was one of my childhood heroes. A retired New York State Police Major, he was 85 when he died in January of 2015. When I heard about his passing, I dug up a Retrospect column I had written more than 25 years earlier, about tracking down the man behind one of my most vivid boyhood memories, and ran it in his memory. I hope you find it as enjoyable as Pete did when it originally ran. ~~~~~~~ One of my earliest recollections of (what is today) Old Route 17 is of the dashing New York State Trooper who used to park his motorcycle next to our house in Rock Hill to watch for speeders. Our house was on the corner of Route 17 and the road that served as the entrance to the Rock Hill Drive-In Theater. Many mornings during warm weather, Trooper Peter Gromacki would sit and wait on that drive-in road, secluded from the view of passing motorists by our house. I was usually close by, at first watching from a safe distance, admiring both the bike and the uniform, later actually talking with him, all the while secretly wanting to take the bike for a ride. There are few things more impressive to a four year old boy than a man in uniform and a flashy bike. For a few summers, at least, a morning chat with Pete Gromacki was part of my life. Perhaps that is one reason why to this day it is impossible for me to think of Old Route 17 without thinking of Trooper Gromacki and his Harley-Davidson. Perhaps that is why I felt compelled after all these years to track him down. For me, no mention of the old road would be complete without Pete. From 1952 to 1957, Trooper Pete Gromacki

P

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N E W Y O R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

contributed photo Retired NYSP Major Peter P. Gromacki was 85 when he died in 2015. was the lone motorcycle cop assigned to the Wurtsboro barracks, and one of only four in all of Troop C, which then served Sullivan County. “There were only about 30 of us statewide at the time,” he told me. “Years before that, before the days of sustained high-speed traffic, there were many more, maybe a hundred or a hundred and fifty, but by the early ‘50s that number had dwindled.” It wasn’t long before state troopers on motorcycles would vanish completely. New highways like the Quickway helped see to that. Suddenly, the trooper on motorcycle was as out of place as he might have been on horseback. “Things were so different when I started on the bike in ’52,” Gromacki said. “In fact, I didn’t even have a radio on the bike in the early days. If the barracks wanted to get hold of me, they had to call Vapnek’s Garage in Monticello or some other spot along the way and leave a message. Then they’d hang a towel out so I would see it and stop in.” The trooper’s main job in those days was traffic control, and it wasn’t easy. There were simply too many cars for Old Route 17 to handle, and too few patrolmen. “We had only one car and one motorcycle in Wurtsboro until 1954,” Gromacki recalled. “Then we went to two cars and a cycle and then eventually to five men. We used to work APRIL 2017


John Conway is the Sullivan County Historian. He can be reached by e-mail at jconway52@hotmail.com. APRIL 2017

CONGRATULATIONS!

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24 hours a day back then, and slept at the barracks. The traffic was always a nightmare. We’d have cars backed up from Wurtsboro to Rock Hill on most weekends and if you had an accident or anything on top of that it was even worse.” In fact, it was the overcrowding of the two lane highway that ultimately led to the construction of the Quickway. A serious accident, in which a runaway truck plowed into an oncoming lane of traffic helped fuel the push for the new road. “It wasn’t at all unusual to have bumper-tobumper traffic for miles and miles,” Gromacki remembers. “We used to use traffic cones to create three lanes out of two. We’d have two lanes going toward Monticello on Friday and Saturday, and two lanes going back toward the city on Sunday.” The problems with traffic abounded under ideal conditions. Add a little inclement weather and things really got out of hand. “To make matters worse, department regulations wouldn’t allow us to take the bike out in the rain,” he said, “so we just had the car.” The new, four-lane Route 17 was completed by the late 1950s, and the need for a motorcycle policeman lessened. After 1957, Pete Gromacki was off his bike for good. He advanced rapidly through the Trooper ranks, however, and I kept track of his progress, most often with the help of my mother’s sharp eyes. “I see where Pete Gromacki made Corporal,” she’d say. “Remember when he used to sit outside the house on his motorcycle?” Gromacki became Commander of Troop F in December of 1976 and retired as a major in 1984. Today, he works as a private investigator in Orange County. Through it all, he says, he has never forgotten his days as a motorcycle cop on Route 17. “Sure, I remember those days,” he said. “I could never forget the bike. I still have a trail bike, which my son and I ride in the woods from time to time. And you know what? I’d go back to being a trooper on a bike tomorrow.” Perhaps then he could give me the ride on the flashy Harley-Davidson that the four-yearold in the house in Rock Hill never got.

N E W YO R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

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Thank You and Congratulations to our friends at the

NEW YORK STATE POLICE for a century of service. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re grateful for your courage, JQPQTCPFUGNHUCETKÆ&#x2019;EG

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N E W Y O R K S TAT E P O L I C E C E N T E N N I A L

APRIL 2017

State Police 100th Anniversary  

For a good century, the New York State Police have protected us, served us and inspired us. Go behind the scenes, both locally and statewide...

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