Word earlier this year that the state Department of Environmental Conservation planned a new training academy in 2022 to replenish the ranks of forest rangers and environmental conservation officers was welcomed by outdoor enthusiasts, environmental organizations, and as well as the rangers themselves.
“Forest rangers are our frontline guardians of wild public lands,” David Gibson, of the Adirondack Wild, said when the announcement was made, noting like others that rangers are busier with tasks such as search-andrescue operations amid a boom in hiking and mountain climbing.
But it remains unclear when the next training academy will be scheduled for new State Park Police officers. There are about 200 Park Police officers, compared to 265 a few years ago. Their last academy was in 2019.
The uncertainty is compounded by the fact that the Park Police force’s future remains cloudy, even though the agency has been under the command of the much larger State Police force since 2019.
Back then, the state planned to eventually merge the Park Police into the larger State Police. The merger would increase the pay and benefits for the Park Police officers. But a merger has yet to occur and remains mired in questions about benefits and seniority status of the Park Police officers who would be absorbed into the larger force.
The New York State Police Benevolent Association, the union representing Park Police, has since 2019 said it has questions about the merger, specifically whether the physical fitness and other requirements for State Police would be waived for older veteran Park Police officers.
Additionally, the Park Police have specific skills and focus, said PBA Secretary Troy Caupin.
“There is simply no agency that can fully replicate the capabilities of the New York State Park Police, nor the willingness to carry out certain patrols such as the waters of Niagara Falls. There are ways to assimilate some of these capabilities into another agency, but one must ask the question whether the dedication to the mission will remain the same,” Caupin said.
The State Police have absorbed other police agencies, including the Long Island Parkway Police in 1980 and the Capitol Police in 1997.
When those mergers occurred, the Parkway and Capitol police kept their longevity pay and other seniority benefits, Caupin said.
Under the existing plan, a Park Police and State Police merger, though, might strip the park officers of their seniority and treat them as new troopers fresh out of the academy for purposes of pay, the PBA said.
Park Police officers may also have to complete the State Police academy despite having already met training requirements at the academy for Park Police.
There also is an age barrier and a waiver that fell off the table in budget talks last year.
Peter Francis Schuchman, 81, of Chenango Bridge, entered eternal rest on June 28, 2021, at Binghamton General Hospital, while surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years, Mary Eileen (McAfee) Schuchman and his three children, Peter Jr. (Mary) of Sinking Spring, PA, Matthew (Lisa) of Harpursville and Elizabeth Hilton (Wayne) of Swarland, England. He was a loving Opa to seven grandchildren, Andrew and Emily Schuchman, Katie, Peter III and Annie Schuchman and Rebecca and Finn Hilton. Other survivors include his sisters, Mary Cassidy and Winifred Schuchman, brother-in-law Thomas McAfee (Cheryl), and several nephews and nieces. He was born in New York City to Francis M. and Winifred (Lundy) Schuchman, who predeceased him. He was also predeceased by his sisters, Elizabeth (Schuchman) Viniello and Katharine (Schuchman) Goyzueta. He graduated from the New York State Police Academy in 1962. Over 30 years of service, he attained the rank of Captain and retired from Troop C Headquarters in Sidney. After retiring, Peter enjoyed traveling, playing bridge, woodworking and real estate. He loved spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren. Wm. R. Chase & Son Funeral Home is entrusted with arrangements. A funeral mass will be celebrated at Saint Francis Roman Catholic Church, Hillcrest, NY on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, at 10am. Calling hours prior to the mass will begin at 9am. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the local charity of your choice or to the Alzheimer’s Association, 441 W. Kirkpatrick St. Syracuse, NY 13204.
The NFC Chicken BBQ will be held Wednesday July 7th at 5 pm
F. George Dirschka passed on 14 June 2021. George was a 1st generation American born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Coney Island by his parents Anna Hirsch and Alfred Dirschka who immigrated to the US in 1907 from Germany. He joined the US Army in 1945 at 17. He was deployed to Germany at the end of WWII in the US Army of Occupation. George served as Sergeant MP with Troop A 15th Constabulary Squadron in Schabisch Hall, Germany. He worked as a desk sergeant in the provost marshal section, handled prisoners and patrols. He received the Army of Occupation Medal and WWII Victory Medal. After service became an electrician's apprentice, then joined the NY State Troopers. Retired as Captain in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation with numerous commendations. George became an investigator with the Florida State Attorney in Titusville in 1974. In 1979 he was awarded a Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Florida International University, Miami Florida. George is survived by: wife Ruth Yaeger Dirschka, children Paul Dirschka (Pamela), Constance Ashworth, Virginia Dirschka (David Frederick), Eric Dirschka (Carrie). Grandchildren: Kimberly, William, Samantha, Paul, Jocelyn, Megan, Alex and Allison. Great grandchildren: Olivia and George Leo Tundo of Milan, Italy.
NYSP provided multiple assets in the Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show! What a great show for everyone in WNY.
Some good news today.
We’re happy to report Trooper Ryan Thorp has been released from the hospital.
Back on June 23, 2021, Trooper Thorp was shot when he responded to a domestic incident in Deposit.
Joan “Carol” Robishaw, 92, of Clarendon passed away June 22, 2021. She was born Dec. 24, 1928 in Albion, NY a daughter of the late Harold and Meryl (Skinner) Parsons and was a lifelong resident of Clarendon.
Carol and her husband Charles spent many years traveling and flying in their Piper Tripacer and also loved attending Conservation Officers Conventions. Carol worked at B & L and was a corrections officer at the Albion Correctional Facility and a Security Officer at SUNY at Brockport. She was a member of the Clarendon Lions Club. Carol will be remembered for her spunk and cheerfulness and making friends wherever she was.
Carol is survived by her loving husband Charles, of 73 years; son, Randy (Joni) Robishaw of Clarendon; sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Betty) Robishaw of Holley; several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the charity of your choice. Carol’s arrangements have been entrusted to Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Inc., 16650 Route 31, Holley, NY
To share a special memory of Carol, please visit: www.mitchellfamilyfuneralhomes.com
Congratulations to Superintendent Bruen On behalf of the entire membership, both active and retired, the NYSTPBA Board of Directors offers its congratulations to Kevin Bruen, who last night was confirmed by the New York State Senate as the 17th superintendent of the New York State Police. As I wrote two years ago upon his appointment as First Deputy Superintendent, the NYSTPBA has full confidence in him due to his long affiliation with the New York State Police as well as his familiarity with our rules, regulations, and most importantly, traditions. In the two years that followed, Superintendent Bruen has proven to be a great leader during some of the most difficult times those in law enforcement have seen. We look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with Superintendent Bruen, who has shown that he’s his own man and is able to make decisions without outside interference.
Cold Case Tuesday: Troop A continues to investigate the 1991 discovery of skeletal remains in Niagara County
Cold Case Tuesday: Troop A continues to investigate the 1991 discovery of skeletal remains in Niagara County
New York State Police in Niagara continue to investigate the discovery of skeletal remains of an unknown man nearly 30 years ago.
On Saturday June 22, 1991 at 5:04 pm, skeletal remains of an unknown male were found by two teens picking berries in a wooded area off Black Nose Spring Road. Black Nose Spring Road is located on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in the town of Lewiston, Niagara County, New York. The body was found about 30 feet from the road’s edge in an 11-foot ravine.
The victim was bound with cord and his mouth had been gagged with a washcloth. The manner of death is unknown.
The victim is believed to be an African American male, 30 to 45 years old, between 5’7 to 5’10 tall. At one point, the victim sustained broken ribs and facial fractures which healed prior to his death. The injuries may have been the result of the sport of boxing.
The victim was wearing a white-short sleeve V-Neck undershirt (Fruit of the Loom size 42-44) and long light-colored underwear (Haines medium).
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the New York State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 585-344-6200.
Please refer to SJS # 1197767.
Our pilots truly are the best.
State Police Aviation- Rochester recently evacuated an injured hiker from Niagara Falls Gorge.
Despite the dangers and risks of landing on the rocks, in the middle of the rapids, Technical Sergeants Kulesa and Marciniak responded and got the hiker out safely.
A job well done to the firefighters who treated the man, and our pilots.
Don graduated from Auburn East High School and SUNY Morrisville. He entered the NY State Police Academy in 1958 as a Trooper, and from 1965 to the end of his career, he was an Investigator with the BCI, staying active in police work as a Private Investigator after his retirement.
A community-minded Auburnian, Don was a member of the BPOE Elks Lodge, and served as Cayuga County Legislator for two terms. He was involved in Cub Scouts, Auburn Youth Baseball and was a lifetime member of St Peter's Church. An excellent athlete, he lettered in three sports in High School and was inducted into the AHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
A caring and kind man, Don took an interest in everyone he met and was admired and respected by those who had the pleasure of knowing him and receiving a big hug. He was an accomplished woodworker, had a tool for every job and was famous for his delicious homemade sauerkraut.
Don will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 63 years, Linda Kroker Brandstetter; children, Scott (Karen Oppenheim) of Ashland, OR, Wendy (Rich) Conner of Ashland, OR, and Chris Brandstetter of Woodland, CA; grandchildren, Chance, Paris and Harper Conner, Zia and Gehrig Brandstetter.
Don was predeceased by his parents, William and Lillian and his two brothers, Bill and Charlie.
Please visit Langhamfuneralhomellc.com to leave a condolence for the family.
Memorial donations in Don's name may be made to: Matthew House 43 Metcalf Dr. Auburn, NY 13021 matthewhouse.org/giving or St Jude Children's Research Hospital stjude.org/donate
Dave Luitweiler reports passing of IRWIN HICKS: Over the weekend we lost a retired member who was the last Station Commander at the old Canandaigua sub-station prior to the creation of Troop E in September of 1967 – Sgt. Irwin M Hicks. Sgt. Hicks was a mentor and much-respected supervisor for a bunch of young troopers who were assigned to that station circa 1962-67. We do have an informal association of members who were stationed at SP Canandaigua during that time and we have a reunion dinner every five years. Irwin always made it to the dinners. He retired in 1969 to accept a position in a Mobil Chemical Corporation in Macedon and continued his friendship with many of us. Years. Irwin and his wife, Mary, have a home in South Bristol. He is survived by his wife Mary, a daughter Lori, and sons Allen, Jim, and Lee. Irwin was a 21 year veteran of NYSP, having joined in 1948. He previously served in the US Navy for 2 years. There will be no previous calling hours. Irwin was approximately 94 old. He had been in ill health – stroke – and recently and passed away in hospice late Friday night.
Irwin M. Hicks
Canandaigua - Irwin M. Hicks, age 94, passed away peacefully, on Sunday, June 13, 2021. He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Mary (Middlebrook) Hicks; four children, Lee (Judi) Hicks, Alan (Lizette) Hicks, Lori Hicks (Harold Power) and Jim (Rene) Hicks; six grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Irene Gladding.
Irwin was born and raised on the family farm on Nott Rd in Canandaigua and was the son of Irwin S. and Malvina (Andrews) Hicks. He was a graduate of Canandaigua Academy, class of 1944. Irwin was a US Navy veteran and served aboard the USS Missouri. He was a New York State Trooper for 22 years, retiring in 1969 and later worked at Mobil Chemical Co. in Macedon for 18 years, retiring in 1984. Irwin was a former Justice for the Town of Canandaigua. He was a hobby farmer on Coye Road and enjoyed hunting, trapping, fishing and playing cards.
Services are private. Interment will be in Andrews Cemetery, Bristol. Memorial contributions may be made to the United Church of Bristol, 7177 Co. Rd. 2, Bloomfield, NY 14469.
Michael Kevin Halloran passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Sunday, June 13th 2021. He died at home surrounded by his adoring family following a very brief illness. Mike was born on November 7th, 1934 in Yonkers, NY. He was the youngest child of Thomas and Clara Halloran (Kelly) and was raised on Andrews Avenue in the Bronx Borough of New York City and later in Katonah NY.
Upon graduating from Katona High School in 1952 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corp and was stationed in Korea following the cessation of hostilities in the Korean War. Upon the completion of his service, he was honorably discharged and enrolled in Boston College to study History. There he was elected class president and played football.
In 1958 Mike left Boston College and returned to New York City where he worked on Wall Street before deciding upon a career in law enforcement. In July of 1959, he joined the New York State Police and quickly established himself as a tough, no-nonsense hardworking Trooper and quickly earned the nickname “Iron Mike.”
“Iron Mike” served the people of New York State over his 30 year career with distinction. He rose through the ranks of the State Police serving in both the BCI and uniform force. He made Lieutenant in 1971, Captain in 1975, Major in 1981, Staff Inspector in 1984 and Lieutenant Colonel in 1987. In this final capacity, he was placed in charge of the entire uniform force of New York State as Assistant Deputy Superintendent until his retirement in September of 1989.
In September of 1961, Mike married Gladys Farrell of Brewster, New York. Their growing family moved from Brewster to Northville, New York in the summer of 1971. Over the next 37 years, he lived out a childhood family dream of raising horses, cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens in the county. He loved working with his hands outdoors and with the help of his built-in crew of seven children, toiled on the land every chance he got.
Mike had many hobbies over the years. He was an accomplished artist and woodworker, and a voracious reader and consumer of information throughout his life. With a near photographic memory, he could quote Shakespeare and other classics for hours without hesitation. He also enjoyed gardening, music, hunting and fishing.
Above all else, Mike was completely devoted to his wife of 59 years and to his seven children, seventeen grandchildren, and three great grandchildren (with two more on the way!) He was a great conversationalist, story and joke teller. His ability to impart faith, wisdom, practicality and levity to any situation was a blessing for those who knew him. To know him was to love him and he will forever be in our hearts and minds.
Michael was predeceased by his father Thomas, mother Clara, brother Thomas, and sisters Patricia and Mary. He is survived by his wife Gladys, children; Michael Jr. (Elaine), John, Paul (Marlene), Judith Scunziano (Michael), Daniel (Jeanne), Thomas (Hanna), and David (Joanne)
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Mike’s name to the Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org
We would like to get all of the Batavia Members up on the Members page but it is voluntary. You can send your picture and info to Mike at email@example.com. We would like to know the years that you worked and the stations/units where you worked.
- President Doney will attend the Division Memorial service on May 5th
-The IRS has approved our tax exempt status. We are now classified as 503C7. This classification allows us to support political candidates.
-On advice of the division lawyers, the division no longer sends out a monthly list of new retirees. There will now be a letter informing the new retiree of our organization in his retirement package.
-A motion was made to make the PBA rep a permanent part of the board. The motion will be voted on at the June meeting.
-The PBA rep advises they are in the beginning stages of getting a small increase in the COLA. There is much to be worked on yet.
-We will no longer be forwarding the hard copy of the Grey Rider. It will now be sent from the printer. If this becomes a problem for anyone let us know and we will fix it.
-The NJ State Police are celebrating their 100 year Anniversary on Sept 9th. The celebration will be held at the seaport pier in Wildwood NJ.
-The Capital district is hosting its annual 911 memorial bike ride. It runs from Boston to NYC. Proceeds go to families of officers killed on 911.
-Our annual HR 218 shoot will be held on Wednesday July 21st starting at 10 am
until all are qualified. We need a head count so if attending let us know if you haven’t already done so.
-Mt Sanai hospital in NYC now has a clinic in Westchester county. This is good news for those of us who travel down once a year for the check up. We no longer have to go into Manhattan.
PLATTSBURGH — This month marks 100 years of Troop B — one of 11 law enforcement troops that protect and serve New York state.
For former Troop Commander John Tibbitts, Troop B is one-of-a-kind.
Starting from its roots of catching booze smugglers violating the Volstead Act in 1921, to capturing national attention during the 2015 Dannemora prison break, Tibbitts said the officers who have suited up for Troop B — which covers Clinton, Franklin, Essex, St. Lawrence and Hamilton counties — have always embodied the original purpose of New York State Police.
Tibbitts, who served as a zone commander for Troop B in 2005 until he became troop commander in 2016, said he dove into the history behind the troop when State Police had its own 100-year anniversary in 2017.
“We found how deeply embedded Troop B was in the community up here. If you look across the state, Troop B is unusual,” Tibbitts said. “The troopers are, in a lot of instances, the only police agencies that you have locally here.”
Tibbitts said that isn’t the case for a lot of New York.
“You can have multiple police agencies there. Local, state, huge county sheriff’s departments,” he said. “But up here, it’s kind of remained similar to what we got originally.”
“There is very little backup. The troopers have to depend on themselves up here,” Tibbitts continued. “We used to have a saying up here: one riot, one trooper.”
What also sets Troop B apart, Tibbitts said, is how connected troopers are to their community.
“Not only were they troopers, they were baseball coaches; they were hockey coaches They did volunteer search and rescue. They were members of the fire departments,” Tibbitts said.
Tibbitts also said a lot of other troops have troopers, supervisors and executive staff who aren’t local and don’t stay in one spot for very long.
Tibbitts was a transplant to his troop, too, coming from Latham, but he said leadership at Troop B does a good job of promoting community within its officers that often gets them to stay.
“They were able to imbue that into troopers, even for the people that didn’t have ownership in the community,” Tibbitts said. “There’s a certain level of pride you take in doing a job like that, especially when serving your friends, your neighbors, your family. It’s special.”
Having that sense of community, Tibbitts said, builds trust between troopers and those they serve.
“It’s a lot easier to approach people and talk to them,” he said. “It’s very unusual for there to be an incident where you don’t know some of the people involved in it, somebody you can go up to and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Did you hear what happened?'”
“There’s that personal connection you don’t get in higher-populated areas.”
Troopers saw that same connection in 2015 when inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, starting a 23-day manhunt that resulted in Matt’s death and Sweat’s capture.
Tibbitts said a lot of troopers were working 24-hour days at checkpoints, being on the lookout for the two escaped inmates.
At checkpoints in Cadyville, residents started giving troopers food until they couldn’t accept any more.
“Then we started getting a lot of donations of soap, deodorant, socks. We were blown away at what the people wanted to do for us,” Tibbitts said.
In order to locate the inmates, Tibbitts said, law enforcement had to evolve their techniques on the fly and try things that were new to Troop B like using newer aircraft, personal location devices, DNA and touch DNA, which were used by the State Police forensics lab.
“We were able to basically track Sweat and Matt from garbage they left behind because the lab worked so efficiently,” Tibbitts said. “I was amazed at how great a job they did.”
Coming up on six years since the escape, Tibbitts said he believes the North Country is still feeling the effects from that event.
“I think the North Country, from an emotional point of view, is still recovering from it a little bit,” he said.
“I mean, it was an armed encampment for just about a month. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing an armed state trooper, an armed federal agent, sheriff’s department, DEC rangers. It became a way of life.”
Tibbitts said troopers saw a renewed appreciation more broadly from the community after the escape.
“It was great to see the people come out and say they get it, that they’re here for you and what can we do to help,” he said. “That’s incredible to hear because you never heard it that much.”
Maj. Charles Guess was the Troop B commander at the time of the escape, commanding more than 1,600 law enforcement personnel.
He wrote a book about the experience entitled, “Relentless Pursuit.”
The escape also became the focus of several television movies and shows, and several other books.
Tibbitts became Troop B’s commander a year after the escape. After learning about the troop’s history, he came across the first captain, Charles Broadfield, whose worn and “cruddy” shoes that were mounted on a board were held in the troop’s museum.
Tibbitts said Broadfield was captain for about 15 years and had a lot of ownership for the position. After he died, Tibbitts said, incoming troopers who filled Broadfield’s spot were told they had large shoes to fill, which is why his shoes were kept and on display.
Tibbitts remounted Broadfield’s shoes on a different board and kept it in the troop commander’s office because he felt the ownership and staying power Broadfield had embodied what the other 26 commanders who came after had.
“There’s a bunch of us troop commanders who are still living, and if you talk to any of them, they’ll tell you that the best time of their life was when they had command of Troop B,” Tibbitts said.
Lionel “Mike” Gagnon, 91, of Malone died Sunday, May 30, 2021 at The Alice Center, Malone.
Born on Nov. 18, 1929 in Manchester, NH, he was the son of Archibald and Edith (Gilmin) Gagnon. They predeceased him.
He was married to Theresa McGowan at St. Joseph’s Church by Rev. George Tobin. She predeceased him on Jan. 8, 2018.
Mike moved to the Malone area in 1940 and was raised in Westville. He graduated from Franklin Academy. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1947 and served in Germany. He was honorably discharged in 1950 and joined the U.S. Army Reserves serving until 1951. In 1951, Mike enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp serving as staff sergeant until he was discharged in 1954. He was employed with the NYS Troopers from Jan. 1955 to July 1987, retiring as investigator after 32 ½ years of service.
Mike was a communicant of St. Joseph’s Church, Malone serving as lector, Eucharistic Minister and adult altar server. He was a member of the Association of Former NYS Troopers, Marine Corps League, American Legion, Amvets, PBA, CSEA, VFW and Malone Lodge of Elks. He also volunteered for the American Cancer Society and Malone Adult Center.
He is survived by his first cousins of his late aunt, Esther Gilmin Plante, of Constable.
Bill has been discharged from Buffalo General and is at home recovering and doing well.
It is with deep regret that Captain Paul M. DeQuarto, Detail Commander, SIU announces the passing of retired Senior Investigator Richard H. Eggleston, age 73. Sr. Inv. Eggleston passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Senior Investigator Eggleston entered Division service on 9/6/73 and was last assigned to SIU - Electronics Surveillance Unit, retiring on 3/27/01.
It is with deep regret that Major Darrin S. Pitkin, Troop “D" Commander, announces the death of Trooper Frederick A. Smith (retired). Trooper Smith passed away on May 17, 2021 at the age of 73. Trooper Smith served with the New York State Police from February 20, 1978 until his retirement on June 25, 1999. He was assigned to SP Pulaski at the time of his retirement. He returned as a Special Trooper on December 18, 2001 and served until October 26, 2005. During that time he helped provide security to critical infrastructure sites in Troop D.
Frederick A. “Fritz” Smith, 72, of Central Square, NY, passed away at home on May 17, 2021. He was born in Syracuse, NY, son of the late Frederick and Dorothy (Herholtz) Smith. Fritz graduated from Henninger High School and was a U.S. Army and Vietnam veteran. He was employed with Smith and Caffery Steel CO and was also a NYS Trooper for over 20 years, working in Homeland Security. Fritz enjoyed music, fishing, tying flies and camping.
In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by his siblings, Dorothy Jean (Smith) Walter and Fran (Smith) Thompson, and his dog, Newt.
Fritz is survived by his wife of 53 years, Cheryl M. (Boster) Smith; children, Sheri Lyn (Smith) Cleeton and Michael Frederick Smith; grandchildren, Lilian Smith, Stuart and Perry Cleeton, Elliot and Penny Smith; several nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.
We try to keep up to date but...
Gray Rider Newsletter October 2021 - January 2022
Association of Former New York State Troopers Inc.