Monday, December 22, 2008

Police Center Christmas Party

First, I would like to thank all of our many donors and volunteers who made the Christmas Party possible. Without you, we would not be able to reach so, many families. Thank you, for your generous support and hard work.

The winter storm arrived early in the morning as predicted the day of our party. Not only did it throw me off schedule (snow removal needs for the party) but I was well aware it would be an added burden to the families who travel to the Police Center by foot. More than half of the 800+ children who arrived here, walked, were carried or pushed in a stroller. Many, making the journey wearing only sneakers or shoes and with out hats or gloves. The snow caused many of the families scheduled in the morning to wait until afternoon before arriving at the party. This caused the party to run a little longer and the last 3 hours to be very crowded.

We anticipated the change from Polaroid Photos to digital photos would be challenging. The convenience of instantly handing a Polaroid to the family vs taking a digital photo, printing the photos and then reuniting the photo with the correct family was truly missed this year. Our newly, donated, A826 printer worked well all day, running non-stop 11am-6pm. However, our other two all in one printers suffered from paper jams and other technical problems through out the day slowing the printing process to a crawl at times. All day long there was a large swarm of people surrounding my printing volunteers awaiting their photos. Many families left planning to return to the Center another day to pick up their photos. Surely, we will have to work on how we manage family photos at our future events. It may require another A826 or two in order to manage our high volume of photos effectively.

Now that you have read about the challenges of a stormy day Children's Christmas Party, let me share some of the joyful stories. This year we had more volunteers than ever before. Many of our regular faithful volunteers were there to help along with lots of new folks. Having volunteers contact me in advance allowed me to work out a scheduling system I hope to refine even more for next year. Thank you, volunteers : )

Once families arrived at the Police Center they were placed in a line to see Santa, receive a gift, family photo, stuffed animal and a toothbrush. Then parents would sit in chairs through out the room while their children sat on the floor and opened their gifts. Families were treated to numerous snacks and drinks while visiting the Police Center. The Jackman Brothers preformed a magic show for the children. Child Safety IDs were also available to families who wanted them. A volunteer from Florida who assisted us with the party last year brought bags full of hats and mittens this year. She and another friend from Florida walked around putting hats and mittens on children who needed them. We served over 800 children along with their parents.

During the Christmas Party I was busy with many things to ensure the party was going smoothly (especially, the photo printing) and did not capture all the special moments happening around me. I don't like it much when I get too distracted from the children and miss those moments. I was still printing out the photos with Santa after the party, when everyone else had left. As I sat and viewed those photos I saw many beautiful smiles on so many children's faces. As I sat at my desk looking at each family photo, reminiscing about the day, my heart was warmed by the thoughts of how much joy we brought to each of these families. Thank you to all who make our party a success.

Officer Clarke

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

A volunteer wraps a gift for a needy child.

In spite of the economy I have a lot to be thankful for, especially my time spent with area families, my family and all of you who lend support to what we do.  I am grateful to all those who made it possible for us to hold our Halloween events. It seems like we just packed away those decorations and we’re already bringing our Christmas items up from the basement.

The Christmas Party is planned for Sunday December 21st, 11:00am-6:00pm.  Already, the phone has been ringing with families wishing to sign up. Sign ups begin the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m a little anxious about finding the resources required to host a party that each year serves 1,000 children.  These tough times cause us to thoughtfully consider where we spend our money. For some, the thought of giving even a small portion of income to assist people outside of their own family is out of the question.  Others feel giving to people in greater need is a commitment which they keep even in difficult times. 

For more than 15 years, I have been able to provide programming for area youth that builds healthier relationships between the community and the Police Department.  A recent survey of families who have attended our programs, conducted by an SU student, testifies to this fact.  I didn’t need data to tell me this. I’ve witnessed it firsthand.  But I am grateful for the data to convince those who need more evidence that what we do makes a difference.

I could never say enough that I could not do this without you.  Some of you have been helping us from the beginning.  Others have joined in along the way. Together we’ve been making a difference in the lives of numerous children and families.  Your support over the years has given me the privilege of joining literally hundreds of families and thousands of children during some of their most joyous times. Not only did you give them wonderful memories, you gave them to me also. Who could ask for more out of life than that?  Each event, each family and each child that has walked through our door has been a treasure to me. Thank you for making this possible.

Over the years we have sometimes added or dropped programs temporally according to our finances. This year is the first time I considered dropping one of our main holiday events, the Pumpkin Carving Party.  Thankfully, some of you stepped up in big ways to ensure we had the things we needed to hold the event. I believe our total of pumpkins carved was 336 pumpkins.  That was not enough.  We ran out.

The Annual Children’s Christmas Party is our biggest event. The number of children who attend during a good economic year is around 1,000. I wonder how many more we may see this year in this difficult economy?

To make it possible, we need donations of funds and goods, as well as volunteer labor.  At the top of the list are gifts for children of various ages, from a few months old to teens.  However, we also need:  Wrapping paper, name tags (self-stick), tape, snacks, drinks, coffee, cups, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, ink cartridges & photo paper (3 x 5 or 4 x 6). 

Since Polaroid film is no longer being made, we don’t know how we will manage the photos with Santa this year. When you multiply the cost by 1,000, expenses quickly add up.  Digital is much less expensive, but it’s a little more involved.  We have found that a small but quick photo printer would help.  It costs between $90-125.  We may add that to our letter to Santa, since it will meet the demand for quick portable printing of digital photos at this event and others.  Donations of any of these items or monetary donations to help us purchase them will help make this event possible.  

In addition, we need volunteers to help prepare for the party and on the day of the event as follows:   

GIFT WRAPPING:  On two separate evenings during the week before the party, we need help bringing gifts to Senior Centers, and coordinating the wrapping of gifts: 

  • One night (TBA) from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Salina School Apartments.
  • A second night from 6:00pm-9pm at Franklin Square Apartments

PARTY:  On the day of the party, volunteers are needed to help sign families in, serve food, wrap gifts, take photos with Santa, print the photos, give out gifts, answer the phone, clean up, etc.  If you can help, please call (315)471-3257.  We encourage you to sign up in advance. The length of the party requires us to offer shifts and rotate assignments. Please call me before the party to review your assignment. 

Thank you to all who share in the Christmas spirit by giving of yourselves.  Those who know they’ve been blessed and have things to be thankful for, pay it forward.

Wishing you a happy holiday season,

Officer Clarke 

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Carving Party

More photos from the Pumpkin Carving Party are posted and can be seen here.

Over 300 pumpkins received ambush makeovers on Thursday night at the Pumpkin Carving Party.

For the first time ever, we ran out of pumpkins and had to go out and get more.
It wasn't easy finding them, and we sure didn't get the price break that we received by picking our own in Hafner's patch.

There were so many people in attendance, all the tables were constantly full.
To accommodate the crowds, we seated some people at the desks in the office area. Yet the line remained out the door for part of the evening as we checked people in and they waited for a seat. This was a first for this event, and it presents a challenge for next year.

All ages participated. Parents and volunteers helped the small children carve fun and scary faces into their pumpkins using special tools and templates. Seeds and pumpkin goo were put in bowls, but invariably ended up everywhere.

One of our volunteers made what has become our favorite chili, which was served along with other soups and stews. The student volunteers from Syracuse University provided extra manpower that was needed to help serve the crowd. They stayed to the end, helped with clean-up and promised to return again to give us a hand. We're thrilled about that. A few donors also stopped by with some items that we count on.

Don't forget, the Halloween Safety Center is at the Police Center tonight, October 31, from 5-9pm. We will check candy and serve cider, donuts and other refreshments.

Everyone is invited to stop by, whether you're out trick-or-treating or not. We always enjoy having visitors.

PumpkinCarving2008 149

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Events

Renee gathers pumpkins (left) while Officer Clark loads them into the truck (right).

Thank you to all the folks who sent donations for our Halloween activities.

We held the Pumpkin Picking Trip. The Pumpkin Carving Party will take place tomorrow at 5:00 pm. We eliminated the Haunted Hayride.

Monday after school, we took as many children as we could transport in three vehicles to pick pumpkins. We traveled to Hafner's on Route 370 in Baldwinsville and loaded two pickup trucks full of pumpkins (a little over 200). They give us a discount every year that we greatly appreciate.

I always get a kick out of the children. I pull into the middle of the patch where we're surrounded by pumpkins. But the children always run 100 yards away to find their own. We were there until dark getting all of the pumpkins loaded.

Since then, we have been working hard to prepare for our party. The Center is decorated for Halloween, tables are set up with pumpkins on them and we have more stashed in the corner for the 200 plus attendees we're expecting.

Volunteers will help us put this event on. This year, a group of students from Syracuse University will be volunteering alongside others who have helped for years. This new volunteer connection was made through the contacts we've cultivated at SU. Also, one of our interns will be bringing some of her cohorts from a group she belongs to on campus.

It's a pretty big chore managing all the people at this party. It's become a very popular event that involves the kids in a hands on activity where they need helpers and supervision. Plus we're preparing and serving food. I will be happy for all of the extra help.

The party starts at 5:00 PM. We will be serving stews, soups, chili and fresh bread from a local bakery. Children will sit at tables and carve their own pumpkin. When they leave, they will receive a McGruff Trick or Treat bag with coloring book, crayons and candy. Bring your family down and enjoy this fun filled event.

We will be hosting a Halloween Safety Center on Friday night, where we check children's candy. Tomorrow at noon, I will be with WSTM Channel 3 doing a live news segment on Safety Centers. I prefer the prerecorded ones because they can edit my mistakes.

At this time, we're in need of more candy donations. At the Safety Center, we like to replace any candy that doesn't pass inspection. If you can help, please call us at (315)471-3257 or stop in to the Center at 255 Wolf Street.

Please check our
website for pictures of these events.

Happy Halloween.

Officer Clarke

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pheasant Release Program


Pheasants are prepared for transport to state land where they were released.
Photographed by Renee.
See more photos here.

On Monday, children had a day off from school for Columbus Day, which gave us the opportunity for a field trip to release some pheasants. 

The birds are much bigger with beautiful colors now that months have passed since we put their blinders on. Monday's task required us to form a straight line with outstretched arms, and walk slowly inside a large pen.  We corralled the pheasants into a smaller fenced area. Then we caught them, removed their blinders and placed them into crates for transporting. 

After rounding up 105 birds, we loaded the children into three vehicles and drove to an area of state land near New Woodstock. There, we made numerous stops along a seasonal dirt road where we released 15 birds at a time. 

We all had a great time.  The children enjoyed riding through the fields and on the dirt roads through the woods. 

The Reynolds Game Farm in Ithaca is threatened with closure due to the current state budget problems.  Clubs already offset the cost of raising the chicks to maturity before they are released.  Rather than close down the game farm, my suggestion is to charge the clubs $1 more per chick, which would cover most of it's operating expenses. 

Other pheasant farms have been closed over the years. Reynolds Farm is the only one left. We can’t afford to lose them.

Part of the argument for closing the pheasant farm is that more people hunt turkey. But there still are many who enjoy hunting pheasant.  Many sportsmen and women like to bring their hunting dogs afield.  Hunting pheasant is a sport where dogs play a key role.  Many folks just love to see the pheasants walking along a hedgerow or a dirt road. 

I don’t hunt any of the birds I release. I enjoy watching them walk by as I sit in one of my tree stands bow hunting. 

Locally, the Onondaga Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs manages the raising of pheasant chicks.  They are delivered to the Jamesville Penitentiary where prisoners care for them weekdays and volunteers care for them on weekends.  

Children from the Police Center are among the volunteers who participate. We very much enjoy the program, as do numerous other members of Sportsman’s clubs who bring young people to participate. We give our time, use our own vehicles and pay for our own fuel to transport the birds to State land.  We don’t complain about the cost or the work.

This program is part of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's effort to manage populations and promote hunting.  Imagine the cost if taxpayers had to pay state employees to deliver these services, rather than use prisoners and volunteers.  

We're appealing to Governor Patterson to keep this program.  The state could charge the clubs $1 per bird, but not get rid of a program that serves an important purpose and saves tax dollars.  We encourage readers to contact their representatives and ask them to preserve this program.

Enjoying the outdoors,

Officer Clarke

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Letter to Supporters

Dear Supporter, 

It’s hard to believe fall is already here.  There are many good things going on at the Police Center

As regular readers and subscribers to our blog already know, two student interns from Syracuse University are working with us on several projects.  Shana is starting an after school homework/tutoring program for area children.  Stephen is conducting a mail survey of over 400 participants in our events. Already, sixty six completed surveys have come back. We will be sharing the results of the survey on the blog.  

By the way, please subscribe to the blog if you haven't already done so.  You can have updates come to your email automatically, or use a reader to check out our notices.  It saves us money and serves you better.  Head to and click on the links to subscribe (or follow these instructions)

So many good things are happening at the Center that it's tough to talk about what's not so good.  We find ourselves in a position where we can't commit to events until donations are received.  At this writing, we do not have funds for the Pumpkin Carving and Christmas Parties.  Things were tough enough for us with the impact of soaring gas prices.  Now with the other pressures on the economy, we're concerned that donations will remain down.

If there is ever a time that I can understand the temptation to keep rather than to give, it's now. Last Sunday, our associate pastor announced an opportunity to give $20 towards a program to provide school clothing and supplies to families in Sabine Pass who were recently impacted by Hurricane Ike.  He held up yellow construction paper cut out to look like little boys and girls, and invited anyone who wished to donate to write words of encouragement on the back of a cut out.   

As I exited the sanctuary, I saw the pastor standing off to the side of the Welcome Center, ready to receive the donations.  I walked past him and others who stopped to make a donation.  I thought to myself that I already placed a check in the donation plate.  Plus, I left my wallet in the console of the car.  Those were good enough excuses, I thought, as I sipped my coffee and waited while the pastor began a brief dedication of our newly renovated Welcome Center

While enjoying my coffee, I began to think how fortunate we were to have this nice big Welcome Center with lots of space for Sunday School rooms and offices. I also thought about how blessed I am, with ample clothing, plenty of food, electricity and a roof over my head.  The Sabine Pass children and families were without the basic things I take for granted. 

I quickly exited the building, retrieved my wallet from the car and gave a donation to someone who certainly could use it more than me. Yes, these are tough times. It’s easy for me to dwell on how much the economy has strained my budget. Plainly, I can not afford the things I could a year ago.  But my basic needs are met, while that family is going without.  That $20 will see a far greater use to the family it reaches than had it stayed with me. 

Please remember there are many families in our community with greater needs than ours. During these tough times they need our support more than ever. It doesn’t matter if it’s small local organizations like us, or others. The organizations you have supported during good economic times will have more people turning to them for help when there's a downturn.  We need your continued support during these tough times. 

Since funds are dangerously low, and donations have been down for a while, we may end up having to choose between programs to ensure we can have at least one event in the remaining months of this year.  I've been very reluctant to even consider the thought of cutting an event.  It’s not a matter of wanting to but doing what circumstances say we have to. 

The children look forward to all the events.  But we have to prioritize.  Our Christmas Party, which is usually attended by about 1,000 children and families, is coming up in about 12 weeks.  It's our biggest event by far and will be here before we know it.  The bottom line is, things aren't the same as they were in the past.  So we can't do things the same way we always have. 

Therefore, we will have the Halloween Safety Center on October 31, sponsored by Neighborhood Watch, who provides the cider and cookies.  The Police Center will be open and staffed from 4:30pm-9:00pm to inspect children’s candy. Volunteers wear costumes and provide refreshments to kids and parents. 

If we receive enough funds in response to this letter, we will decide whether we can hold these other events, according to this tentative schedule: 

  • Pumpkin Picking - Tuesday, October 28, 4:30pm:  We bring the kids to a field where they pick their own pumpkins.  200 pumpkins are needed for the pumpkin carving contest. Then we return to the Police Center to decorate for Halloween and enjoy snacks.
  • Pumpkin Carving Party- Thursday, October 30, 5:00pm:  We invite area families to the Police Center to carve pumpkins and enjoy a free harvest meal. 

Donations needed include:  Pumpkins, candy, pumpkin carving kits, candles, decorations, food, drinks, cups, paper plates, napkins or checks to help us pay for supplies. 

If you are interested in helping or have any questions, please call me at (315)471-3257.

Sincerely yours,

Officer Clarke 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sportsman Education

clarke coe

Officer Clarke and Detective Coe
At their posts, working a security detail.

To those of you interested in going afield with your firearms, Detective Gary Coe and I will be instructing the New York State Sportsmen Education Classes at the Northside Community Police Center, located at 255 Wolf Street, Syracuse. 

The minimum 10 hour class is a requirement for individuals who wish to obtain a hunting license in New York State. We will be offering this free class in three sessions:
  • Monday, October 6,  5pm-9pm
  • Friday, October 10, 5pm-9pm
  • Saturday, October 11, 8am until conclusion. 
You must attend all three sessions.

In addition, you must pass a written and practical test.  If we can obtain a range, you must fire two 22 rounds and 1 round from a 20 gauge shotgun. 

Advanced registration is required.  You may do so by calling (315)471-3257 and speaking to Renee or me. 

These classes fill very quickly so, do not delay.

More women are attending the classes and going afield in pursuit of game. I have enjoyed the years of teaching my daughters proper safe gun handling skills along with times in the field looking for game. 

Moms with a son or daughter taking the class should learn the same gun safety lessons her children are expected to know. We will help you feel more comfortable with the firearms your husband and children have in your home. 

We cover loading and unloading firearms, proper carrying and firing of firearms and, equally important, safe storage of your firearms.  We give out free locks.

Walking through woodlands and fields with my lab searching for upland birds is my best exercise. Likewise, my best psychologist is Mother Nature as I peacefully sit in my tree stand watching wildlife walk by unaware of my presence.  That is, except for the red squirrel who often chatters at me for perching where he likes to eat his apples.

A good hunting day in the woods does not always mean I will have wild game for dinner. Many of my best days afield were when the only thing I carried out of the woods were the memories my five senses captured.  A beautiful sunrise or sunset, flocks of ducks beating their wings as they landed in the marsh just past sunset, a majestic buck staring at me as he busted me right in the middle of rattling my antlers, a chickadee that landed on my gun barrel, are just a few of them.

If you have ever had the desire to attempt the sport but have been hesitant to try, I encourage you join us. Renee, will be assisting us with the class and she has plenty of insight for the women who attend. 

Again, please don't delay that phone call because the class will fill fast.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Uno Chicago Grill Fireman's Dough Raiser

Shana, Renee and I went to UNO Chicago Grill for lunch today. Not only did we have a great meal, we also supported The Retired Fire Fighters Cancer Fund. 

UNO will donate up to 20% of your check to the fund. So, if you have not already made it part of your plan for tonight, please do so. You have till 9PM tonight to eat, drink and have up to 20% of you bill go towards a good cause. 

I have a Neighborhood Watch Meeting tonight at 7PM as soon as I am done I will be dropping in to the UNO at the Carousel Mall to blow the suds off one. Come on over and introduce yourself and I will buy you one (after all it goes to a good cause). 

Hope to see you there. Make sure to inform your server your want to participate in the fund raiser. I will bring extra coupons with me in case you need one.

Officer Clarke

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New After-School Program for Youth

Hello! My name is Shana.  

Like Stephen, I am also a Syracuse University student majoring in Policy Studies.  I was born and raised in Staten Island, NY, and I'll be graduating school this year.

This semester, I am working with Officer Clarke and all the lovely volunteers to start up an after school youth program! 

The plan is to have middle school students come to the Police Center on Fridays, right after school, to get a head start on their weekend homework. I'll be with them the whole time to offer any assistance that is needed, and once their homework is done, the fun can begin! 

We will have academically-oriented projects to do and games to play.  The idea is to not let any of the students fall behind in their school work this year, and to learn, before they enter high school, the importance of an education. It will give participants something to look forward to during the week, provide them with a role model, and offer the tools to reach their goals. 

The planned start date is October 17, 2008.

If any readers have ideas, suggestions or questions about the program, please feel free to send us an e-mail!

Talk to you soon,


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stephen Hall: First Post

My name is Stephen Hall and I am a Junior at Syracuse University.

I am from Dayton, Ohio and am a die hard Cincinnati Bengals fan. In high school I used to box, wrestle, and do Muay Thai kickboxing, and at Syracuse I'm in a fraternity and a member of the Syracuse Cheerleading team.

Currently, I am working with the Northside Community Police Center as part of my public affairs class, PAF 315. I've been asked to conduct a survey of users of NCPC. 

I began by designing a spreadsheet, and filled it with the names of the people who have attend events within the past year. 

Then I designed a survey with the input of Officer Clarke, Renee, and Northsidebloggr.  Once the surveys are returned, I will tabulate the results and produce a report. 

So far it is extremely rewarding and a great learning experience.

The surveys go out today. In a few weeks, I will get the data back so I can start tabulating the results.

You'll be hearing more from me soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Volunteers Needed: Survey Mailing

Hey folks,

If you are interested in helping us with the mailing of our surveys, the date and time is Wednesday September 17, 2:00pm at the Police Center. If you want to help call 471-3257 to let me know you are coming.

Thank you,
Officer Clarke

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thanks to our Anonymous Benefactor

Bright and cheerful petunias on display near the front entrance of the Police Center.

These flowers were planted and are taken care of by someone who has chosen to remain unknown to us. They are a welcome and beautiful addition to our entrance.

Thank you to whomever is responsible.

Officer Clarke

Friday, September 12, 2008

Evaluating Our Programs

The Police Center relies on volunteers to assist with operations and programs. Without them, we would not be able to do much of what we do.

We often need help with the day to day work, and that makes it a real challenge to take on big or long term needs. One of those needs is to evaluate our programs to show they're working and supporting our community policing mission.

To move that idea forward, we have tapped into Syracuse University's program at Maxwell that involves students in service to the community. After we brainstormed ideas regarding how these students could help us and learn something useful at the same time, we submitted proposals and they were accepted. Now a few Maxwell undergrads will be working with us to handle some important projects.

One student will be collecting information that tells us whether our community policing mission is being met through our events for children and families. He will survey participants. We've asked him to blog, and in the near future he'll be telling you more.

We plan to mail 800-1,000 surveys with return postage. Labor will be supplied at no cost. Postage is estimated to cost $850.

You may wonder, “Why spend money on just getting answers to some questions?” There are a few reasons:
  • If the results are favorable to our efforts, we may be able to use the data to seek new sources of funds.
  • We may use the information to continue or enhance Police Department support of our non-traditional policing efforts.
  • We may use the information to better serve our community.
  • We will be helping an SU student learn, and meet a requirement of his course.
  • Working with SU students will open doors for additional collaborative efforts.
I always try to be on offense, pushing forward with youth and family programs that put police and citizens working together to solve problems. There is value in this approach. At the same time, I have to protect these programs, as some do not see value in them.

If survey results come in and indicate a favorable response to our programs, it will add some backing to what our experience tells us. The results will also be a stepping stone to more data collection in the future. During these times of pressure on budgets, we need information like this that tells current and new donors that our efforts at the Police Center are worthwhile.

If you wish to partner with us in this project, you may help by:
  • Donating stamps or envelops for the mailing and return of surveys;
  • Donating your time to help address, stamp and stuff envelopes (I will set aside an afternoon in the very near future September 18th or 22nd are possible dates);
  • Make a monetary donation for us to purchase the supplies we need;
  • Filling out and returning the survey, if you receive one.
Once the surveys are returned and the data is tabulated, I'll be sure the results are posted here.

Your continued support will make this project possible.

Thank you,

Officer Clarke

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Summer 2008 Recap

Hey Folks,

Thought I would bring you up to date on what has been happening.

Our Free Summer Meal Program wrapped up last month. We served 30 breakfasts and 60 lunches Monday-Friday. My daughter Alyssa worked each day serving meals and also working with the children on reading and building crafts.

Our Summer Camping Trip was a great time of fishing, canoeing and campfires. We took more new kids than repeat campers, which made it a little bit more of a challenge. When it is the other way around, the returning campers are a great help to our new campers. When not, it is a lot more work for us adults, answering questions, reinforcing expectations, etc. The kids caught lots and lots of fish. We all had a great time.

Our Picnic with the Police and Fire Departments was a very enjoyable event. This year we added a Bouncy House. The children loved it. The line for the tent was always 20+ children long, and many would get right back in line after they exited.

Around 1,000 people enjoyed free hotdogs, hamburgers, snacks, drinks, snow cones and prizes. It was a busy day for the firefighters, officers and my volunteers.

Several people made comments regarding the amount of food some people were eating. The picnic is not only a special treat to area families, but an important meal to some. Thanks to donors and volunteers, we provided families a day full of food and fun. Thanks to those who supported all of our summer events. Your donations touched the lives of many area children.

A special shout out to:

  • My daughter Alyssa for her work here at the Center during the summer. She is now working on her Masters at Cortland, which means I will have her closer to home to help me with our fall events. Yeah!
  • All my volunteers who took time off work and their already busy schedules to help with our summer events.
Now to bring you up to date: I just returned from a 4-day, Carnival Cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. My mother’s health is not good. Her boyfriend planned the trip for her and other family members months ago, and I was dreading it right up till the day I stepped on the ship. I was a little nervous about getting sea sick and not being able to get off the ride.

I am pleased to say that I did not get sick. We all had a great time. The cruise was way beyond what I imagined - bigger and better than I thought. Price-wise, for meals, lodging, shows, visiting Mexico, etc., a regular trip anywhere would cost much more. So, if you've ever thought about going on a cruise, take my advice and go.

We have some exciting things happening this fall at the Police Center. I'll tell you about some of them in my next post.

Until then, thanks again and stay safe.

Officer Clarke

Never Forgotten

Video by Tnic.  "Into the Fire", by Bruce Springsteen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer Fishing Trip


Officers Clarke, Ware and some volunteers took a group of children on a fishing trip to Black Lake over a long weekend beginning August 8th.

See the rest of the pics on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


originally uploaded by kwmcnutt.

"If I happen to be alive today,
I have to say that whatever happened yesterday,
happened yesterday.

If someone did something bad to me,
I have to forgive them,
or else what they did will hound me every day . . .

Every day, I have to proceed. Let me proceed."

- Julius Wani

Defined by courage and triumph over his experiences in Sudan, Julius Wani is no longer a "Lost Boy".

Syracuse Post Standard Columnist Sean Kirst has chronicled the story of this friend of Lopez Lomong, including his reaction to the results of Lomong's Olympic competition. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gold Medal Sportsmanship: Alicia Sacramone

Good leadership is like good sportsmanship. One of the most important lessons to be learned in victory and defeat is the need to be gracious, win or lose.

Alicia Sacramone's performance on the balance beam in Beijing presented a great test of her sportsmanship and leadership abilities, particularly after the competition ended.

The captain and her teammates on the US Women's Gymnastics team have endured more pressure from the distractions created by international politics than any other team thus far in the Beijing Olympics. With a few exceptions, commentators seem unwilling to acknowledge the impact of these matters on the athletes.

China was honored with the torch. They have succeeded in grabbing the world's attention with spectacular displays. Carrying the torch involves responsibilities as well, including advancing the principles of good sportsmanship.

Sportsmanship is about more than the outcome of the game. It's also about how the game is played, under what conditions, and how coaches and athletes choose to respond. When the emphasis of coaches, athletes, parents, officials, fans or the media is focused on winning at the expense of everything else, there is nothing of value left to be learned when a team does not get the top prize. Nor is there much of lasting value to achievements gained on an uneven playing field.

Good coaches ensure that the right lessons are learned so that athletes can perform better the next time. Others, including the media, play a role in either supporting these learning opportunities or hindering them, not just for the athletes but for all who are observing. In that regard, they're carrying the Olympic torch as well.

Under such scrutiny, athletes who maintain their composure and behave with dignity in spite of a loss, under conditions beyond their control, are to be commended.

For all those involved in influencing youth, the Olympic games, and these circumstances specifically, present teachable moments about good sportsmanship. These lessons translate into other life circumstances. Similar circumstances may be encountered in the workplace and in relationships with others.

In sportsmanship and leadership, Alicia Sacramone gave a gold medal performance.

Note: Alicia's interview with Andrea Joyce following her performance is here. If you use Mozilla and have problems accessing it, try opening it in Internet Explorer.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Picnic with Police and Fire Departments a Success


Hundreds of children and families turned out for the Picnic with the Police and Fire Departments that took place on Thursday in Washington Square Park.

Many loyal volunteers returned to the picnic this year to cook, assemble and serve hundreds of hot dogs and hamburgers to the public who attended. The grill masters behind the large barbecue, along with servers for all the other food items were stationed under a pavilion and went at full speed all afternoon.

Sides, cold drinks and the ever popular snow-cones rounded out the picnic fare. All food, ice, and other items were supplied by donors. Attendance was steady throughout the afternoon, in spite of a few brief showers.

Snow Cone Maker

Officers from the Syracuse Police Department's Community Policing and Traffic Divisions displayed equipment and programs, or assisted children near the entertainment areas. Several police vehicles were available for demonstration. A few patrol officers that work the North side were present when they were able to stop by.


Students from the GREAT program volunteered at the event, giving a helping hand wherever needed, including at the DARE Unit's information tent. There were other displays by various units.

In addition, Chief of Police Gary Miguel and the chiefs of each division were all present to greet the public during lunch. They stopped and talked with neighbors and supporters regarding topics of interest. Lots of Police Center friends stopped by, including Brian Cubbison of the Post Standard, who is part of our online community as well.


A Syracuse Fire Department chief, plus all of the officers and firefighters from Station 2 were present to help kick off and staff the picnic. They brought Truck, Engine and Mini 2 with them for demonstration to interested attendees. More than one hundred families had their pictures taken in or near the yellow ladder Truck and the red Engine that provided colorful backdrops. Firefighters patiently lifted children onto the steps and into the seats, then posed with them when asked.

Polariods took a bow at this year's event and made their final exit. Digital photography with on-demand printing was given a whirl for the first time, supplying some very nice take-aways for the families. We'll be perfecting this process for the Christmas Party.

Several times during the event, the firefighters administered first aid to a few children with minor cuts and bruises, and were dispatched to a nearby accident with injuries in front of the Police Center. With the exception of this, everything went off without a hitch.


Entertainment included various games with prizes, playground equipment and a very popular bouncy house that the kids rocked. Volunteers and officers supplied the resources to supervise and run the entertainment, all of which was made possible by private donations. One of the volunteer teams included a mother who owns a North side business, and brings her two teenage sons to give a hand at our events.


Some children cooled off in the fountain or by sitting under a tree to get their face painted. There were some very colorful and unique designs on the children's faces this year. Donors and volunteers provide the supplies and labor for this favorite feature of the picnic.


Additional photos from the event can be seen on our Flickr site.

We sincerely thank everyone who made this event possible: Our donors, volunteers, members of the City of Syracuse Police, Fire and other departments, and supporters, including the media and area businesses who publicized the event. The Picnic would not have been possible without you!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Content With Our Content?

"Suggestion" originally uploaded by Bstar.

We've added a feature called "Skribit" (scribe-it) to the blog, a "suggestion box".

This is your opportunity to provide input on the topics and other content you'd like to see on this site.

Here's how Skribit works:
  • Click on the question, "What should I write about?"
  • A box pops up where you can type in a brief suggestion, 100 characters max.
  • Hit "submit". Your suggestion will appear in the box with a "vote" button next to it.
  • By voting, on the suggestions made, readers will choose the ideas they like best.
We're allowing anonymous suggestions, so you will not have to register in order to offer one.

Have at it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Picnic With Police and Fire Today

Supporters and neighbors are invited to Washington Square Park today for a picnic, located off the north end of Park Street.

There will be information and displays by the Police, Fire and other City departments. Games and other forms of entertainment will be available for the kids. Burgers, hotdogs and other picnic fare will be served.

Keep an eye to the skies. If it's raining, the picnic will be postponed until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We've Been Blogged!

Seen From the North Side at Blogged

"Seen From The North Side" has been reviewed by Blogged.

We're very pleased with the initial rating we received from Blogged's professional editors: 7.0 - Very Good.

The blog was evaluated based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.

Currently, we rank higher than other law enforcement blogs that have been around longer and have more subscribers.

We invite you to join Blogged and submit a reader review.

Please help us continue to deliver content that makes you want to come back for more. Give us your feedback. Make comments. Email us.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Free Ballgame Tickets, Smoke Detectors

Fire Prevention Tips Using Smoke Detectors

In recent months, neighbors on the North Side have experienced the tragic consequences of house fires. Some of these fires occurred in structures where smoke detectors were not present, not working or not located where they could make a difference in saving lives.

Almost a year ago, three people died in a multi-story home on Carbon Street. Only one working smoke detector was found by fire investigators, located on the first floor. Two children who died were recovered from a second floor bedroom. A woman was unable to escape a third-floor attic.

Approximately half of all fire deaths that occur in homes could be prevented if working smoke alarms were present, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).

The primary reason why alarms are not working is that the devices installed are not operational. In fact, 1 out of every 5 homes that has smoke detectors installed lacks a single, working alarm. This is typically due to one or more of these factors:
  • The Big Disconnect: People sometimes disconnect their alarms because they present a nuisance. They're either activated by steam or vapors from cooking or bathing, or they chirp constantly because the batteries need replacing.

  • It Doesn't Work: Smoke Detectors need to be tested regularly. Although the batteries may be fresh, the unit may not work. Old units fail or give off false alarms. The older the unit is, the higher the odds are that it will not work.
Solutions to these problems are simple:
  • Relocate alarms that are too close to cooking and bathing areas.

  • Replace batteries and units on a regular schedule.
    • Batteries: Whether they're dead or not, install new batteries twice a year. It's recommended that you do this when Daylight-Saving Time rolls around.
    • Smoke Detectors: Check the back of the unit for a date clearly marked. Anything more than ten years old, or in bad shape, including units that have been painted, should be replaced. If your unit doesn't have a date on the back, it's old. Get rid of it.

  • Regularly test your smoke detector on the same schedule.
    • Press the button and see if it works.
    • Don't gamble with old devices. Replace them.
As part of their ongoing fire prevention efforts, firefighters from the Syracuse Fire Fighters Association will be distributing FREE SMOKE DETECTORS tomorrow night at Alliance Bank Stadium before the Syracuse Chiefs take on Scranton-Wilkes-Barre at 7:00pm.

Members of the Syracuse Fire Fighters Association have also donated a supply of FREE TICKETS for the game. Please stop in and pick some up. Smoke detectors can be costly for many families. This is a great opportunity to have a night out with the kids, while doing something to keep them safe.

Be sure to arrive early to receive these free items. They'll be available while supplies last.

If you aren't able to pick up a free unit, please take the time to test the units in your home or apartment. Encourage your neighbors to do the same, or give them a hand. Let's do what we can to prevent another tragedy.

For more fire prevention tips, visit the NFPA website or contact Fire Prevention in the Syracuse Fire Department, (315)473-5525.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Clarke's Caventure, Part III: Can Clark Conquer the Cave?

(Editor's note: If you haven't read Parts I and II yet, do that first.)

I was disappointed with myself.

I tried to attend this trip with my son R.J. the past couple of years but the timing never worked out. This year, R.J. is traveling with a college group, but my daughter had jumped at the invitation. Now she was in the cave without me.

"What a drag," I thought, as I sat on the ledge.

One of the teachers who could not fit in the cave began talking with me. I shared how disappointed I was.

"What are ya gonna do? If we can't fit, we can't fit."

She was right. It's not like we could shave off parts of our backs and chests to fit through the crevice. It was true, but still not much help to end my pouting.

The man who had so much advice then took off his outer shirt and tried to get in again. Still no luck.

"I guess that confirms for me that I can't fit," I thought.

The man said he was going to lose more weight, come back next year and try again. He even said he lost 15 lbs from last year and still, he couldn't fit. For a moment I had been thinking about the "losing weight and fitting in" idea, but with that testimony he blew that idea for me.

What's more, I kept looking at Millerman. He has been in the cave several times, but this time he was assigned to remain outside. "He is bigger than me," I thought, "how did he fit in?"

As I sat on the ledge pouting, I looked at Millerman then looked at myself. We had the discussion before the trip. Millerman had said, "You will fit in the cave. If I fit in, you will fit in."

But I couldn't fit in. So now I was looking for some secret clue.

I asked Millerman, who was reclining half asleep on a large bolder, "Millerman, how the heck did you fit in that cave? There is no way I can fit."

"They had to use a lot of grease on me," was his reply.

I should have expected such an answer coming from him. "No, really, how did you fit?" I asked again.

"I don't know. I just did," he replied.

I was really puzzled, and I know the women were as well.

A short time later the other group began exiting the cave. What were they doing? They were coming out from the chasm, not from where we were trying to enter. "Is there another way?" I thought.

As soon as they left, one of the teachers, who couldn't fit in the cave, came over to me and said, "Did you see where they came out of? Let's go see if we can fit through that way."

I wasn't interested at first.

I had already given up.

But as soon as she headed in I was right behind her.

We both dropped down into the chasm and looked around with our headlamps. We couldn't see far, and it would require some tight squeezing, but there was clearly more room as far as our eyes could see.

But which way was the right way? We had no idea. We decided not to chance going the wrong way and getting stuck. It wasn't long after our group started exiting the cave.

And guess how they exited? Up through the chasm.

Exploring Eagle Cave

Our leader, Tom Gardner, popped his head up from the chasm, and yelled for us to come in. As soon as I got through this bigger, yet still tight, passageway into the cave, I began yelling for the others to come in. I told them there was much more room, and soon, those of us who were left behind were all in the cave exploring.

Eagle Cave

Once you get past the tight squeeze, the cave opens up into a huge room.

There are other tight turns and passages that lead to other rooms, some requiring climbing and descending equipment. This is not an adventure I would recommend for the inexperienced.

The trip down the mountain was much easier than the trip up. We arrived back at our camp sites a little tired but well satisfied with our accomplishment.

It was another evening of networking and sharing—along with a mind teaser: "I need a Psychiatrist." I will tell you who was the last to figure out this mind game because it was me.

Alyssa and I enjoyed hanging with the group util around midnight again. Much wisdom was shared during this trip.

It requires a certain kind of person to be up for the challenges of working in the city schools with children. Many teachers don't have what it takes. It was a pleasure for my daughter and me to meet and network with the fine group of folks that attended this trip. Each one is dedicated to reaching out to our youth and doing their best to provide them with an education. I look forward to working with them in the future.

The next morning we were up early, packed and at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake by noon. Alyssa seemed ready to venture through the museum when she started out by sitting in the over-sized Adirondack chair. But after two hours of touring we were tired and ready to go home. No problem. I am a member of the museum and can return multiple times. We have several more trips to the Adirondacks to work with college groups through fall. We plan to visit the museum again.

A shout out to all you Syracuse City School teachers: Keep up the hard work, and sign up for the Adirondack trip next year. Contact Ken Miller for more information.

To those of you who would like to take your group of teens or your corporate group on an Adventure trip, contact me. We have access to numerous types of accommodations and facilities in the Adirondacks and locally.

Alyssa, Renee and I will be providing team building workshops for groups through October.


Officer Clarke

(Editor's note: Props to Officer Clarke for not giving up! Pics of the trip are here. For more information on Chimney Mountain and Eagle Cave, including a history, detailed maps, directions and labeled pics, explore this site.)