100 years of New York State Police celebrated
In April 1917, the New York State Police was established. On Sunday, 100 years later, the Jamestown State Police barracks celebrated that milestone with an open house.
On display were various police vehicles that included a snowmobile, a boat, multiple vehicles and even a helicopter. Community members were encouraged to stop by the Jamestown barracks to get a look at the equipment the State Police work with. K-9 dogs and officers were also attended the open house and those who took advantage of the open house were able to meet the police canines.
The open house coincided with the annual Red Cross Blood Drive that is hosted at the barracks on the weekend of Sept. 11, in honor of the infamous day. The 100 years of New York State Police was celebrated throughout the state and each region hosted their own celebration. Jamestown’s open house was comprised of three other barrack that included Fredonia, Collins and Ellery.
The reason behind the open house on the 100th year anniversary was simply to bring awareness to the public about what the state police actually do.
“Just so the public knows what we’re doing, what equipment we have, what equipment is available,” Captain Eric Balon said. “We want everyone to know what capabilities we have.”
Balon also mentioned that he wanted the public to know about their DNA and Forensics labs.
Balon has been with the New York State Troopers for 31 years. Although he couldn’t speak for the state police before he signed on, he did, however, talk about the highlights of the State Police over his career. Occasionally, the state police is called to action with events around the nation. Previously, the troopers were called to New York City after the attacks on 9/11. A few years later, troopers from New York were again called to action but this time in New Orleans to help with disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina. One room inside of the barracks had a slideshow loop playing on a TV in order to honor the effort that was put toward the aftermath of 9/11.
The New York State Police has undoubtedly changed over the course of 100 years and even over the 31-year-career of Balon. The biggest change that Balon has noticed and benefited from since his start in 1986 is the improvement of communications through the advancement of computers.
“I think the biggest change in my time, my 31 years on the job, is to having computers,” Balon said.
He praised this technological advancement and said it has helped communications and record keeping.
One of the vehicles on display was what one might mistake for a military vehicle or a SWAT vehicle, while similar, it is used for the Special Operations Response Team, New York State Police’s version of SWAT. The vehicle is used on average about twice a week and is typically used for drug raids.
For Balon drugs are the biggest concern for the area going forward into the next 100 years. He admitted that before his return to this area he never thought that the drug problem would be as bad as it is today. While public safety has always been the primary goal for the New York State Police, he was very concerned of the growing drug problem. During the weekend of Independence Day, there were 140 drug related arrests in the local area.
“The biggest shock to me when I came back here and took over as a zone commander is the amount of drugs,” Balon said. “My goal, and every trooper’s goal, is just to make the community a better place. Right now, the drug problem is just off the rails.”
Many community members attended the open house and or the blood drive hosted by the Red Cross. For those attending the open house their motivations varied but for Dora Emmick her motivation was clear. For Emmick, the purpose of bringing her grandchildren to the State Police barracks was to break potential stereotypes of police officers that they might have.
“For me, it’s more (for) them to get a chance to see police without being scared of them,” Emmick said.