YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The Yorktown Auxiliary Police has been disbanded by Police Chief Robert Noble.

The all-volunteer group, which assists the Yorktown Police Department, has been in existence for more than 60 years. Noble, in a statement to Yorktown News, said the organization was officially disbanded at 11:59 p.m. July 1, for “security concerns.” The volunteer officers are unarmed, he said, leaving them vulnerable to attacks.

“On a normal daily basis, the media report instances when police officers are the subject of attacks, some of which have resulted in police fatalities,” Noble said. “Since the Auxiliary Police are uniformed police officers they can become the subject of attacks. However, the Auxiliary Police are not armed as police officers, putting them, as well as other police officers, in very vulnerable positions.”

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According to reports, 135 on-duty police officers in the United States were killed in 2016. Nearly half of those officers were fatally shot. Several days after Noble disbanded the Auxiliary Police, a New York City police officer was assassinated while sitting in her cruiser.

At the time of its disbanding, the Auxiliary Police consisted of four officers: Capt. Rick Davin, Lynette Waterhouse, Fred Compton and John Battista, Noble said. In the statement, he mentioned all officers by name and thanked them for their service.

“This was not an easy decision, and emotions could not dictate my final decision,” Noble said. “I truly thank all past auxiliary police officers and the four current auxiliary police officers for their selfless contributions.”

Davin, captain since 2004, said he understands Noble’s decision and harbors no ill-will toward him or the department.

“It’s never been a difficult situation,” Davin said of his relationship with the police department. “It’s just something that goes with the times. The members have understood and I don’t think anyone wants to be in the situation where they could be in fear for their life or anything else like that. That was the chief’s call.”

Davin said the primary duties of the Auxiliary Police force were traffic and crowd control. He said the officers often assisted at parades, fairs and other town events. They would also respond to accidents and assist in directing traffic, he said.

The officers were required to complete 52 hours of volunteer service per quarter. Auxiliary Police officers had to achieve peace officer status, complete 99 hours of training at the police academy, be 21 years old, and be a United States citizen, among other qualifications.

The Auxiliary Police had three “hand-me-down” cruisers, Davin said, and the officers often went on late night patrols, calling for Yorktown police officers when necessary. He described the auxiliary officers as the “eyes and ears” of the police department.

Davin said the Auxiliary Police received great support over the years from the various police chiefs and town boards. The force had its own budget line, which was $8,450 in 2017. The force once had as many as 25 officers, Davin said.

“We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think we were making a difference,” Davin said. “We always did feel we were appreciated.”

While he appreciates the volunteers, Noble said, there were too many safety risks for Auxiliary Police officers.

“Volunteering for duty that could make you a potential target is not safe for anyone, most importantly for the family of the person volunteering,” Noble said. “I do strongly believe that I have made the correct decision.”