All volunteer and diverse as the community they serve, the Summit Auxiliary Police Officers add more eyes and ears to the Downtown Business District and other areas of town.
Walking the downtown beat on an evening this past fall, longtime Auxiliary Lt. William MacAdam was a familiar and welcome presence to merchants and shoppers. To visitors and residents alike, he patrols the area with the same power and presence of a full-time officer. But because he is walking the beat, MacAdam might have a little more interaction with civilians than his full-time counterparts. Thus, he fulfills the role of downtown ambassador as well.
People stop and ask him for directions, other cross the street to shake hands while shopkeepers know that he and others are very often nearby. “Billy is an old hand at making our downtown friendlier and safer,” offered Jim Greberis, owner of the iconic Summit Diner, as he was closing for the evening. “All the officers are residents so they know their way around. And the fact that they are volunteers makes us appreciate them even more.”
Service the community since the 1950’s, the members of the Auxiliary Division are authorized to use certain limited police powers under the guidelines handed down from the Office of Emergency Management. From there, Summit Police Chief Robert Weck then adds other restrictions, such as the amount of hours they must work to keep their status, before the Summit Police Department deploys the volunteers in a variety of tasks to complement the work of the regular officers of the Summit Police Department.
“These are great people and we require them to volunteer at least 12 hours a month but some are here 80 hours a month,” offered Summit Police Sergeant Richard Proctor, who manages the ten auxiliary officers and serves as their Chief. “They help out with crowd control at special events,” he continued. “Then they volunteer to go out in foul weather, hurricanes and big storms, pitching in, securing roads, directing traffic, helping us keep the community safe.”
Like regular police officers, the Auxiliary members go through a twelve week “boot camp” at the County Police Academy. There they go through physical training and also learn the basics of legal terminology, civil rights and the penal code. Once they graduate from the Police Academy, they are sworn in at City Hall and are authorized to walk the beat with handcuffs, police radios and other gear. In Summit, however, they are not permitted to carry firearms, nor can they make vehicle stops. “Another difference,” explained Sgt. Proctor, “is that when they are off the job, they are regular civilians. They carry no police powers out of uniform.” He also noted that his team is diverse, ranging from members who are retired and seeking to give back to the community to young adults hoping to add to their resume in the hope of someday becoming a full-time police officer. Sgt. Proctor added, “many people who join have the desire to be a police officer and rightly so see this as the first step to that career.”
Going down his roster, Sgt. Proctor noted that two officers work for the Summit Police Department as public safety dispatchers, handing emergency calls from the public and directive police officers, EMT’s or fire personnel to a scene. “Jeffrey Deets’ brother is one of our officers,” Proctor continued, adding “Sandro Reyes works for the Parking Authority and attends Rutgers Newark, where he is studying Criminal Justice degree.”
For more on the City of Summit Auxiliary Police and its services, contact Sgt. Proctor at (908) 273-0051.