Unsung Hero: Steven Kress, Clarkstown Auxiliary Police Officer Volunteer

Clarkstown Auxiliary Police Officer volunteer Steven Kress has been trained to provide the ‘eyes and ears’ of the regular Police Department by observing and reporting conditions that require attention in the community

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.

Auxiliary Police Officer Steven Kress told the Rockland County Times, “When I have put on my uniform for the last 25 years, I felt great and very proud because I am about to go out and help the community. My mission is to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the regular department so simple tasks like directing traffic is left to us while the ‘real guys’ can go out and do their thing. For traffic control, Clarkstown provides us with traffic vests, flashlights, whistles, cones and cars with lights. Major events include Clarkstown High School South graduation, Nanuet High School graduation, India Day Parade and 4th of July fireworks. At Clarkstown South High School graduation, we reverse the flow of traffic. We stop the cars because if they go through, they are going to have a ‘head-on’. Back when I started, I attended an Academy for 10 weeks up in Pomona where they taught us everything from handcuffing to intelligent traffic control. My uniform includes the shirt, the badge, whistle, baton, radio, handcuffs and pepper spray. I would use pepper spray if I thought my life was in danger and I couldn’t get away from the individual. The pepper spray instantly shuts your eyes and affects the mucus membranes. People should join the Auxiliary Police because it is a service to the community you are in or have grown up in and there is great camaraderie plus it is a great experience. I volunteer for the satisfaction knowing that I’m giving back to the community that my kids grew up in and I’m helping the Clarkstown Police Department do its job.”

Pepper spray is made from an extract of chili peppers and usually comes in an aerosol container, so it can be sprayed quickly and easily. Since it is portable, and easy to use, it is a popular option for law enforcement use. When sprayed into the face of an attacker, it is extremely irritating to the skin, the 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.

The communities and locations in Clarkstown covered by the Police Department and Auxiliary Police include Bardonia, Central Nyack, Congers, Lake DeForest, High Tor State park, Germonds, Hook Mountain State park, Mount Ivy, Nanuet, New City, Nyack Beach State Park, Rockland State Park, Spring Valley (east portion), Upper Nyack, Valley Cottage and West Nyack.

In other Jurisdictions, Auxiliary Officers may be assigned to perform uniformed patrol in certain neighborhoods. This includes patrolling on foot, bicycle or by car. Generally, they serve in non-enforcement and less dangerous duties than their full-time colleagues. Auxiliary Police Officers often enforce highway laws and direct traffic, particularly after an accident in high-congestion areas and on unsafe roads. They are also called on for crowd management duties during large events, such as concerts, sporting events and parades. They may accompany full-time officers when responding to an emergency call, act as translators or operate a emergency hotline.

The Emergency Vehicle Operator Courses (EVOC) are designed to enhance vehicle safety operations by emphasizing the principles of defensive driving in emergency and non-emergency situations. The course explains the importance of emergency vehicle driving, the impact of vehicle accidents to the driver and the organization, responsibilities for safe emergency vehicles operation and the factors that contribute to an incident involving emergency vehicles. There will be an essential understanding of the complexities of driving under emergency conditions, the hazards of intersections and the risks of backing-up apparatus and vehicles. Defensive driving techniques include space management, following distance and rate of closure.

The Clarkstown Auxiliary Police program is a great opportunity to get a close-up look at law enforcement. For others, the Auxiliary Police program provides an opportunity to give back to the community, while pursuing other careers.

For additional information about the Clarkstown Auxiliary Police or to volunteer, contact Captain Darryl Draper at 845-639-5887.