Unsung Hero: Helen Hayes-Perkins, Clarkstown Auxiliary Police Officer Volunteer

By Barry Warner

Auxiliary Police Officers are called upon to supplement police department work as needed. Although the 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.

“My mission as an Auxiliary Police Officer is to assist the Clarkstown Police Department and to help out in the community,” Clarkstown Auxiliary Police Officer Helen Hayes-Perkins told the Rockland County Times. “I attend an annual in-service training given by the Clarkstown Police Department that includes crowd and traffic control, use of the expandable baton, pepper spray, handcuffs and first-aid. This is my fourth year of volunteering and I enjoy doing details, such as fireworks plus community and school events. When there are runs, I like to cheer the participants on, give them high fives and help anybody who needs assistance. I like to be out there with the community and speak to people. If people fall and get hurt or need medical attention, I will get on the phone and talk to the medics. If someone stops and indicates they need directions, I will help them. There was an instance where a runner indicated that her feet were killing her because her socks were falling into her shoes, so I took off my shoes and gave her my socks. If a kid wants to look into the police car, I would gladly answer his questions. I would say never be afraid of speaking to a police officer, we are here to help. We are good people and want to be of assistance any way we can.”
“Regarding Traffic Control, I work parking at graduations directing traffic, so people don’t have a long line of cars in the parking lot and out on the road,” he continued. “ I explain to the motorists that we are here to help and they understand. We accommodate for handicapped parking and keep the fire lanes open. We use reflective vests, red and blue light wands and reflective gloves. I have worked the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pearl River every year. We park the Auxiliary police car on a side street and put up barricades to re-route the traffic. When the parade starts, we make sure everybody, including the small children, are back behind the line on the street and people are doing what they have to do. I love to talk to people and wish them a happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

“We are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police department, so if we hear anything or see anything we may try to assist, if not we call it in,” he added. “I have been living here since 1959 and I have tons of family here. My father was an NYPD Deputy Inspector for 40 years. I love people as well as my community. When I see a little kid smiling and waving at me and someone walks by when I am on duty and says ‘thank you for your service,’ that means the world to me. The members of the Auxiliary Police Department have become my brothers and sisters. We learn a lot from each other and your self-esteem rises. The training we get from the Clarkstown Police Department ensures that we are safe when we are out there. I am a Grade 3, with a minimum of over 1,000 detail hours, which gives me the authority to set up and run a detail.”

Pepper spray, used by an Auxiliary Police Officer as a defensive weapon, is a derivative of hot cayenne peppers. When the spray contacts the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose throat and lungs, symptoms will appear instantly. The capillaries of the eyes will immediately dilate causing temporary blindness and inflammation of the breathing tube tissues will cause difficulty in breathing. This allows the peace officer to disable the attacker and take control of the situation.

An expandable telescopic baton is a powerful and intimidating self-defense and impact weapon. The peace officer can gain the advantage of surprise and distance. The collapsible shaft makes it easier to carry and to sit in a car seat wearing the baton, because collapsed it measures only between 6-10 inches. The mere display of extending the baton may be terrifying to an aggressive person, which could de-escalate the situation through submission of the perpetrator without physical violence.

For additional information about volunteering for the Clarkstown Auxiliary Police, call 845-639-5887.