Unsung Hero: Major Marshall Becker, Orangetown Police Auxiliary Unit Volunteer

BY BARRY WARNER

Police Auxiliary officers are unpaid volunteers who are called upon to supplement police department work as needed. Although members do not perform the full range of duties of a law officer and do not carry a gun, they take part in other efforts that preserve peace and order, prevent crime and protect life and property.

“The Orangetown Police Auxiliary Unit acts as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police department . We wear blue uniforms to provide a presence and if something happens we call it in,” Major Marshall Becker, this week’s Unsung Hero, told the Rockland County Times.

“Auxiliary officers are equipped with police radios, flashlights, handcuffs, straight wood batons and memo books. During medical emergencies, we are trained to administer CPR and activate the defibrillator. There were occasions when our men had to subdue a person who was out of control. At the same time, a call was made to the police station and they sent help. We are trained to use a baton, which is not a deadly weapon and to use pepper spray or mace to avoid a confrontation. Hand cuffing techniques involve the way you hold a person, the way you hold the hands behind his back plus getting another officer to assist.”

Becker explained that handcuffs placed in front make it much easier for the suspect to attempt to pick the lock, open them with a universal handcuff key or even use their arms as a weapon. An officer’s first line of defense is to cuff the hands behind the back. Police recruits are typically taught to apply cuffs, so that the palms of the suspect’s hands, already behind their back, face outwards with the thumbs up. This makes it more difficult for the hands and fingers to work together to pick or escape from the cuffs.

Pepper spray is made from an extract of chili peppers and usually comes in an aerosol canister, so it can be sprayed quickly and easily. Since it is portable and easy to use, pepper spray is a popular option for both law enforcement and personal use. When sprayed into the face of an attacker, it is extremely irritating to the skin, eyes, mouth, throat and lungs. Its effect is immediate and it can distract a person long enough for a police officer to take control of a subject.

“Traffic control is essential at an accident scene (situation #107) to prevent further mishaps or injuries.  Rerouting vehicles around the accident scene is the most common procedure used and spectators or unnecessary personnel are cleared from the scene. We carry a long light-tube, have a whistle, reflective gloves and a vest. If a motorist does not obey commands, we take down the license plate number and call it in to the Police Department,” Becker continued.

“There are four main events we work at that include the Italian Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, July 4 Fireworks and the Greek Festival.  As a major, I call in the Administrative Captain, we sit down and work out a plan for each event, then Lieutenants and Sergeants are called in and the duties are given to each squad. We have an active group of 35 members and each member gets boots, summer and winter shoes, summer and winter pants, shirts, sweater, jacket, hat and badge. One type of patrol is a ‘house check’ where the Police Auxiliary member walks around a house to check on a request made by a homeowner.

“If things don’t look right, the Orangetown Police Department is called and the member of the Police Auxiliary waits until the Policeman arrives. If we have a potential recruit, I tell him what it’s all about including that this is a voluntary organization with no salary, interview him with all the officials and emphasize that all members of the Police Auxiliary Unit must be available for the big events. Socially, we have Christmas parties, attend games at Boulder Stadium and enjoy other events throughout the year.”

Major Marshall Becker concluded, “I volunteer because I love it and want to help the town. I owned a horse riding stable 40 years ago. The Sheriff formed a mounted unit and asked me if I could truck the horses around. I said I would and he swore me in as a Reserve Deputy, which is updated every year. In 2008, I was asked if I would take over the Orangetown Police Auxiliary Unit as a Major. I have missed many parties and occasions, but my family understands. The Police Auxiliary Unit is a good support group for the Police Department. Three members of the Auxiliary joined the Orangetown Police Department, Four members joined the NYPD and two members are now Federal Officers. I am a happy guy!”

Anyone interested in joining the Orangetown Police Auxiliary Unit can e-mail Lt. Mitch Saul at otauxpd@verizon.net or call 845-359-7395 x 3770.