A sad farewell to the Special Police

24 May

In the years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve met countless wonderful people; business owners, residents, special event chairpeople, grass-roots organizers. Together, they comprise the fabric of our community.

Through those years, and all those people, there’s always been one constant: the Special Police.

At every one of our town’s special events, I’d invariably see these dedicated volunteers helping with crowds and traffic control, and directing traffic at accident scenes. I’ve always appreciated their expertise, professionalism and good nature.

That’s why I was saddened to hear that Webster’s Special Police Department was being eliminated.

I heard rumors a while ago that such a decision was in the works, but I guess I was hoping I’d heard wrong, or at least something could be worked out with the Town to salvage this important service. But then, a few days ago, I got an email from Michael Charland, the most recent Chief of Special Police, confirming that the department is truly gone.

Michael gave me some background about how the whole thing went down. I’m not going to get into detail about that and the politics that were involved. (To read more of the story, check out the letter to the editor in last week’s Webster Herald.) But he did include some history which I thought was interesting.

He wrote,

Our unit began as the Webster Auxiliary Police under NYS Civil Defense guidelines back in 1953, and evolved into a Special Police organization in 1997 when the NYS Town Laws were changed. We generally had about 25 volunteer officers that served the Webster Police Department in law enforcement roles whenever called upon to do so. All of our officers were trained at the Monroe County Public Safety Training Facility and certified as NYS Peace Officers.

The town never fully utilized all of the powers that NY State granted to us over the years. Typically they utilized our members to do more routine duties such as traffic control, some patrol details, or provide security at large public gatherings, which we were happy to do. Other duties included providing court security to the town justice court, and 24/7 emergency response to fatal MVAs, storms, crime scenes, etc. where we generally provided a secure perimeter for the WPD to conduct their work. 

I’m going to miss not seeing Special Police officers at our special events. Like the upcoming Memorial Day Parade; they’d always be there in force, on bike and on foot, and they were always happy to smile for my camera.

Thank you for your service, Special Police officers.

Here are some of my photos from previous blogs, and a few provided by Michael.

* * *

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(posted 5/24/2022)

9 Responses to “A sad farewell to the Special Police”

  1. Judy lee May 25, 2022 at 7:05 am #

    Sad how things have to change should of tried to find another place for them. Just sad if things aren’t broken why fix it

  2. Cindy May 25, 2022 at 9:13 am #

    If they are all volunteer tests why is it being dissolved? No cost to town??

    • websterontheweb May 25, 2022 at 11:00 am #

      It seems in part that it has something to do with liability and insurance concerns, but all that is explained in more detail in the article in the Herald, if you can get your hands on one. There is some cost

  3. Kathy Taddeo May 25, 2022 at 10:45 am #

    I cannot think of a reason why the town prefers to hire people when the special police were performing this function for free. Maybe when we meet (how is your June schedule?) you can explain it to me!
    Sent from my iPhone

  4. websterontheweb May 25, 2022 at 11:08 am #

    I somehow managed, while responding to it, to trash a comment from someone who was wondering about the reasons and if anything could be done. I was saying that getting into the details about why they were disbanded treads in political waters I want to avoid. But the letter Michael sent to the Herald explains it better. And since this seems like it’s something the Town Board has been planning for a while, I don’t think there’s anything that can be done.

  5. Terry foglia May 25, 2022 at 11:42 am #

    Thank You For your service!

  6. ron May 25, 2022 at 1:25 pm #

    A very sad day in Webster, what is happening, all the voids this group served and they will be missed. One of two things will have to happen, no coverage or less coverage or pay extra monies for regular police. Wow!!!

  7. Doris Coon May 25, 2022 at 9:19 pm #

    We the tax payers should have a say in some of these decisions. I know they are elected but do they come and talk to the public to see how we feel. Obviously not.

  8. Ron Nesbitt May 27, 2022 at 10:20 pm #

    Since I was Supervisor the current Chief of Police was lobbying to rid the town of the Special Police. Many days he sat in my office asking me to disband the unit because he felt they needed more training and the color of their uniforms matched the color of the Webster Police. He found a Supervisor that didn’t have the history of understanding the value of having the Special Police in Webster as Greece does and will continue to have. This will cost non-for-profits to provide traffic detail or town taxpayers will pick up the cost in overtime in the town budget. Total lack of leadership on the Town Boards part. This blunder will cost taxpayers in court security and traffic detail around $ 60,000 a year not counting retirement costs. Also where did all the Special Police assets go like cars, bicycle, uniforms etc? At no time while a Town Board member did Cataldi, Abbott, or Cahill ever show any displeasure with the Special Police when I was Supervisor but now they vote to eliminate them, certainly makes no sense.

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