Sunday, October 20, 2013

Game Warden Files--Hunter Safety Interviews

Of the many things I did in New York City, one of the things that occupied much of my time in the early days there was interviewing applicants to become Hunter Safety (now called Sportsmen Education) Instructors.  Overall, I found that to be very rewarding, but it was an overwhelming experience for a while.  When I first arrived in Brooklyn, I was handed a stack of applications over an inch thick, many of which were well over a year old. Being something of an outside the box thinker, I arranged to get an interview room at a New York Police Department station that was in the middle of Brooklyn close to public transportation and with a fair amount of available parking during the daytime.  I then developed a form letter to send to all the applicants whose applications were among the oldest ones.  I gave them the location of the station, times and dates I'd be there, and told them that if I didn't hear from them, their applications would be taken out of consideration. That was designed to give me a reasonable number of newer applications to work on in the traditional manner--home visits--and it eliminated well over half of the backlog.

The appointed day arrived to start my precinct house interviews and quite a few of the applicants showed up.  One still comes to mind, though I can't recall his name.  There was the normal buzz of conversation in the lobby of the station and when a man entered the door, all eyes turned toward him, and conversation stopped.  It was a man walking with two canes and a great deal of determination.  When the conversation resumed, there was a rush of officers toward this man, all with smiles and outstretched hands.

Seems that this man was a legend among police officers in Brooklyn.  A cop's cop, he had a reputation as a tough, hard working and very effective officer and then he'd been injured in an on-duty motor vehicle accident and not expected to survive.  He survived, but was not expected to walk again, then he was walking.  While still recuperating and awaiting retirement, he'd come out of a Te Amo--a chain of small convenience-type stores--and seen a small, young female police officer taking a physical beating from someone over a parking ticket she'd given him.  Though still convalescing and walking with the aid of two canes, he employed those canes to stop the attack on the officer and put her assailant into submission until the guys in the blue suits arrived. If I recall right, he'd pretty well beaten the snot out the the "poip" as the local vernacular would have it.   If he hadn't been a hero before, he was then.

I got a lesson in NYPD culture in a conversation with this hero and a young sergeant.  In introducing himself, the young sergeant asked  "You remember (name of another officer) who got shot?" "Well, I'm the guy who shot the guy who shot him!"  This was normal police culture here--I had to get used to it.

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