More Then 1 Year After 2 Auxiliary Officers Were Killed In The Line Of Duty, Little Change Has Been Made To The Police Program
After the deaths of the Auxiliary officers, City Councilmember David Weprin created a 10 point plan with the help of Auxiliary officers. The plan, named the "Auxiliary Officers Assistance Plan", had 10 different suggestions that Mr. Weprin wanted the department to use in order to improve the Program.
Unfortunately, the department only used 2 of these suggestions. They are issuing all Auxiliary officers bulletproof vests now, and have started to phase in newer patrol cars that are in better condition than previous ones, and all patrol cars will now look like full time officers cars with Auxiliary decals on them, instead of the different colored vehicles the department has been using. In addition, they toughened hiring standards, and have revised the training course to update and add training given to new Auxiliary officers.
The lack of change that has been made to the Program has angered and frustrated many Auxiliary officers. When I asked a few Auxiliary Officers what upset them the most, they said that they are mostly upset about the department not training and issuing them with pepper spray, and not giving them Peace Officer status. "Issuing us pepper spray would be a minor change that will go along way. It gives an Auxiliary officer the option to defend himself and the public much better. The problem with the nightstick is that you need to be close to the person your using it on. However with pepper spray, you can stand farther back while you use it, which is much safer in most conditions" said one Auxiliary Officer. "With the Peace Officer powers, it would benefit Auxiliary officers because it would bring tougher penalties against anyone who attacks or injures an Auxiliary officer. It doesn't mean that the city would take more of a liability because they say what Auxiliary officers can and can't do" said another officer.
Another problem with the Auxiliary Program is the minimal training Auxiliary officers recieve. Currently, Auxiliary officers recieve 54 hours of training over a 16 week period. However, other volunteer police programs, most notably the LAPD Reserve's, give it's volunteer officers hundreds of hours of training. In the LAPD Reserve's, Reserve officers who go on patrol are those at the Level 2 or 1 tier level. Level 2 officers go through approximately 460 hours of training while Level 1 officers go through approximately 800 hours of training. But LAPD Reserve officers are peace officers who have the same power and authority as full time officers. In addition, LAPD Reserve officers are allowed to do certain things NYPD Auxiliary officers aren't allowed to do, such as write tickets or make traffic stops. However, many Auxiliary officer say that even if they remain unarmed, and can't do more, they would still want to go through more training for their safety.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that the department finally decides to give the Auxiliary Program the major changes it deserves. This is a life and death situation, literally, and the department needs to do more to protect Auxiliary officers.
March 14, 2007
Two NYPD auxiliary police officers were shot and killed by a heavily-armed gunman in a volley of gunfire on the streets of Greenwich Village around nine o'clock Wednesday night, after the suspect had fatally shot a restaurant employee.
Investigators say the volunteer officers – Nicholas Pekearo and Yevgeniy 'Eugene' Marshalik – as well as responding officers from the sixth precinct began chasing the suspect after he fired 15 shots at an employee at DeMarco's pizzeria on West Houston Street near Macdougal, killing 35-year-old Alfredo Romero.
The suspect, identified as 32-year-old David Garvin, took off running down several streets that were crowded with people. As armed officers from the sixth precinct closed in, the unarmed auxiliary officers caught up with Garvin at Sullivan Street, where witnesses say he walked across the street and shot the unarmed uniformed men.
"The policemen were over there standing in the middle of the street like this, with sparks flying and everything. It was crazy,” said a witness.
Police then chased Garvin to Bleecker where they killed him in a gun battle that sent bullets flying a block away.
Police say Garvin had a disguise and was armed with two semi automatic handguns and an ammo pouch with at least four additional clips loaded with more that a hundred rounds of ammunition, leading authorities to say the incident could have been even more tragic had the suspect not been stopped when he was.
"This tragedy, as horrific as it was, could have been a lot worse without the actions of our brave officers," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at an early-morning press conference at St. Vincent's Hospital, where the injured officers were pronounced dead.
"He killed three unarmed individuals in quick succession and appeared to be ready to take even more lives,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “When he turned onto Sullivan Street he encountered two of the city's unsung heroes, two New York City auxiliary police officers. They were part of the 4,500 member program whose volunteers serve without compensation as the eyes and ears of this department.”
Witnesses described a chaotic scene in which people screamed and ran for cover during a barrage of 15-20 bullets outside a popular stretch of restaurants near the campus of New York University. Police closed off several blocks around the area as patrons streamed into the streets following the shootings.
Nicholas Pekearo, 28, had been with the auxiliary police since 2003. Eugene Marshalik was two weeks shy of his 20th birthday. He was a student at NYU; he joined the Auxiliary Police Department 13 months ago.
Pekearo and Marshalik are the sixth and seventh auxiliary officers to lose their lives in the line of duty since the program's inception. The last auxiliary officer fatality occurred in 1993.
In response to the shooting lawmakers are calling for changes in the Auxiliary Police Program.
Congressman Vito Fossella pledged to increase federal funding for the program to purchase bulletproof vests for the volunteer officers. Legislation to change the uniforms of this force was also drafted by Assemblyman Keith Wright. Wright says the public should not confuse the NYPD officers with the auxiliary officers, and the current uniforms make it hard to tell them apart.
Meanwhile, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum called on the city to provide mandatory coverage of full funeral costs for all auxiliary officers. Currently only full-time police officers have that compensation. However, as volunteers, fallen auxiliary officers only receive up to $6,000 to cover funeral expenses.
The mayor announced Thursday morning that the city will cover the cost of the funerals for both fallen officers.
Wednesday night's incident was the fourth time in two days that NYPD officers have been attacked in the line of duty.
The procedures of the city's auxiliary police force will be reviewed after two of its young officers were gunned down last week while pursuing an armed man through Greenwich Village, officials said yesterday.
A committee, created by the NYPD, will review the recruitment and training of auxiliary police officers as well as how they are equipped, deployed and supervised, officials said.
"The murders of Auxiliary Police Officers Nicholas Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik require that we undertake this comprehensive review to improve the safety of our volunteers," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The panel will consist of Nicholas Estavillo, commanding officer of the auxiliary police; John Hyland, head of the Auxiliary Police Benevolent Association; eight high-ranking members of the NYPD, and several veteran auxiliary cops.
"I've asked the committee to report in 90 days with recommendations to improve the safety, effectiveness and professionalism of the auxiliary police program," Kelly added.
In the meantime, City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) announced he will introduce legislation requiring the city to outfit the 4,500-strong volunteer force with bulletproof vests.
"It is a shame that our citysends volunteers to patrol our streets without the basic protections they give armed officers," said Monserrate, a former police officer. "This oversight has already cost us the lives of twoheroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our city's public safety."
State Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) also recently wrote a letter to Kelly requesting the NYPD supply auxiliary cops with vests.
Auxiliary cops currently wear uniforms similar to NYPD officers and carry nightsticks and handcuffs, but they do not carry guns.
AUXILIARY OFFICERS ASSISTANCE PLAN
March 26, 2007
This plan has been proposed by City Councilmember David Weprin.
Equipping Auxiliary Officers With:
1. Bulletproof Vests
3. Expandable nightsticks
4. Protective masks
5. Automatic External Defibrillators for all APSU (Rescue) Units who are already authorized by the NYPD for its use.
Legislation Calling For:
6. Increased penalties for attacking and/or injuring Auxiliary Police Officers. By granting Auxiliary Officers the status of PEACE OFFICER WHILE ON DUTY, Auxiliary Members will be re-qualified as "NYC SPECIAL PATROLMEN." a status that exists in the NYC Administrative Code and the NYS Criminal Procedure Law. The change in status will automatically bring with it an increased range of penalties for injury to an Auxiliary Officer.
7. Appropriate benefits for disabled Auxiliary Officers and their families.
8. Mandated regular reporting by NYPD to City Council on Auxiliary Program statistics such as equipment, vehicles, training, hours, and number of personnel.
9. Improved and increased training and self defense classes for Auxiliary Officers to be administered by Police Academy Instructors.
10. Full Restoration of Auxiliary Emergency Service Unit (AESU) name and function in order to allow Auxiliary Officers to properly serve as the auxiliary arm/adjunct of the NYPD Emergencies Services Unit as was originally mandated upon its creation in 1950.