Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Allyn International vs. Challenge Course

I did make it home from the workshop with Allyn International. I had to wait until I returned to the Police Center to work on this post. Something is wrong with my laptop again. My charger is not working and my battery went dead.

The group was a pleasure to work with on the challenge course. The morning started out with a misty rain. We worked on spotting technique and trust leans.

The group I was working with asked me to be a participant for Willow in the Wind. Very rarely do I allow myself to be a faller into the group when I am responsible for spotting but the group was doing such a great job it was easy for me to put my trust in their spotting ability.

They gently passed me around the circle in true Willow in the Wind form. As soon as I stepped out Allyn asked to step in. Naturally they took good care of the boss as well.

The weather cleared for the afternoon and soon many were up in the trees challenging themselves. Everyone did a fantastic job. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet such a wonderful group of people.

Hey, you Millennials, are you looking for a boss with a sense of adventure? Are you interested in working with peers who like to have fun and are committed to their jobs? Take a look at Allyn International.

I am already looking forward to working with the next group in September.

Take care,

Officer Clarke

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Program and Service Improvements: Internet Access

"A Handful of Dells", originally uploaded by northsidebloggr

We recently acquired five pre-owned Dell workstations running Windows XP for use by our staff, volunteers, neighbors and others we serve at the Northside Community Police Center.

These workstations, along with our WiFi network, will enable easy access to our web site and the services available there, as well as elsewhere on the Internet for anyone visiting the Center.

At our site, users can receive information on filing a police report, volunteering and donating to the Police Center, or becoming a police officer with the City of Syracuse. They can also view a directory of services available through other units, departments, local governments and non-profit organizations, link to other sites, and contact us using an online form.

Users can also view information on and photos of our events, check our Event Calendar and access our Blog, "Seen From the North Side", all from the main page of our web site.

These computers will also make it possible for volunteers to do Police Center work using more current technology than what was previously available.

Having some additional licenses of Microsoft Office for these computers would also go a long way towards improving the productivity of our users, as would some new office chairs.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Raquette Lake, June 19-21

Left to right: Officer Jim Clarke, Renee Gosselin,
John Jensen, Alyssa Clarke, Cy Gibson

Hi Folks,

I am currently in the Adirondacks on Raquette Lake, Camp Huntington doing some team building with Allyn International Services. They are a logistics company based in Florida.

We are working with 36 employees from various parts of the world- Russia, France, Prague, Japan, China and the USA. We worked with a group last week, we have a new group this week and we will be working with the last group in September.

Our group last week was wonderful to work with. They were very focused and eager to participate and learn. We have spent a half hour with the new group and the dynamics are different.

I am excited about what's ahead for this group. We will split the group into three and start out on the low elements. Then they will be climbing up into the trees for the high elements.

The Challenge Course requires the group to work together to resolve problems. We debrief them after each exercise to get their input on what went well, what did not and why. These exercises can help groups identify issues and work through them.

You can look for us online. Check out the camp Huntington Web cam, mounted in the dining hall, by clicking on web cam at the top of their web page. We meet in that area at meal time 7:55 am, 11:55 am and 5:55 pm.

If you are interested in bringing your group on a team building adventure give me a call.


Officer Jim Clarke

Thursday, June 19, 2008

GREAT Summer Program

GREAT SUMMER 07-1 108, originally uploaded by northsidepolice.

Officers participate with youth in low elements of a Challenge Course set up in Meachem Park last summer.

The DARE/GREAT Unit of the Syracuse Police Department has announced the 2008 Summer GREAT Program.

GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) is a curriculum based on the goals of reducing gang activity and educating youth on the consequences of gang involvement.

The program is open to youth between the ages of 10-14 years old, and is being made available free of charge to participants, thanks to grants secured by the department.

The sessions are three weeks long, and offered as follows:

  • Session 1: June 30 - July 25 (no class from July 14-18)
  • Session 2: July 28-August 22 (no class August 11-15)
Classes will meet from 8:30am-1:30pm at the Hamilton Street Boys and Girls Club with lunch served daily.

Transportation will be provided from the East Fayette Street Boys and Girls Club. Parents are responsible to deliver their children to either location, and transportation will be provided from there, as needed.

Trained uniformed police officers present the GREAT curriculum to youth in a classroom setting and through involvement in a wide range of community-based activities. The objective is to impart life skills, a sense of competency, usefulness and personal empowerment to youth, enabling them to resist involvement in violence and criminal activity.

The program is intended to help students become responsible members of their communities by setting personal goals, resisting peer pressure, learning how to resolve conflicts constructively and understanding how gangs impact the quality of life.

For further information and an application, please contact the DARE/GREAT Unit at (315)442-5216. Check out the pics from GREAT 2007.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Join Us: Involvement Fair

Later today, Officer Clarke and representatives from the Northside Community Police Center will be at the "Involvement Fair", an event sponsored by 40 Below. Stop by and say hello.

We're looking for volunteers with various skills to assist us at the Police Center. You can help with day to day operations, take over a project, assist with an event, take the lead on something, or even come up with an idea of your own and run with it, after discussing it with Officer Clarke.

At the Involvement Fair, we'll be available to talk with people interested in getting more involved in the community. Stop by Driver's Village in Cicero, Center Court between 5-9pm.

If you cannot make it, please check out our web site for more information, and use the contact form available there to get in touch with us.

Just this morning we heard from a potential volunteer who used our website, and told us about how she can help. It's a great way to connect with us, and we encourage you to get in touch.

In case you missed it, we made page A-2 of the Post Standard this past Sunday, announcing that we're part of the Upstate Blogs Network.

Stop and Smell the Roses

"La Donna e Mobile" * originally uploaded by northsidebloggr
It's June in the Northeast, and that means the roses are in bloom.

Before they're past peak, don't miss the opportunity to take in their fragrance and beauty.

Recently, I captured this lovely pink variety called"Prima Donna", blooming in the E. M. Mills Rose Garden at Thornden Park.

Being able to enjoy experiences like these makes me appreciate the many things this area has to offer. When I hear people complain about life here, I wonder whether they ever change up their routine a bit, or a lot, to make life interesting. This gorgeous rose garden is just the ticket. It's a great way to break up the monotony and appreciate one of the jewels of our city.

The Syracuse Rose Society lovingly maintains these lush grounds located near the peak of University Hill, where climbers, hybrids, teas and other varieties grow. There is a gazebo, trellises, and benches dotted around the circular garden, where every variety of rose is named and labeled. And, unlike most of the blooms available from retailers, many of these beauties are actually fragrant.

Between the smells, colors and variety of roses and the people watching, the sensory experience will draw you in and make you want to stay for a while.

Be captivated today from 12:30 - 2:30pm when you can enjoy "Rose Day". There will be tours of the garden, music, refreshments and even a hat contest.

If you're in town and can break away, have a little fun with this. Embellish your cap with something unusual. Fly solo, find a friend, or take some kids. Don your lids, grab the brown bags and head up to The Hill for a colorful lunch break. Who says it can't be a funky hat contest?

If you can't visit the park today or dislike crowds, choose another time. Just get there soon. You can still wear your mad cap. You'll just be part of the scenery that day.

After you go, be sure to leave us a comment about your experience. Email us a pic and we'll post it here. Have fun!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Reflections of a Fisherman

Northsidebloggr has been encouraging me for months to post to the blog more often.

Most of what I know how to do on the computer I have learned on my own. That should give you an idea of how limited my computer skills are. I'm still learning the difference between a blog and a post. And I'm being Twittered to death.

A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to write a post on our Spring fishing trip. I was away from my computer, so I vigilantly typed at my tiny BlackBerry keyboard for over an hour.

Feeling confident my two thumbed typing was improving, I attempted to kick it up a little and mistakenly hit the back button. I lost all my work.

After regular encouragement from Northsidebloggr, I'm making another attempt at sharing moments from our Spring Fishing Trip. But this time I'm playing it safe. I'm at my laptop.

Over the past weeks, I've been busy instructing on the Pistol Range, leading a Ropes Challenge Course refresher at Camp Huntington in Raquette Lake, and attending a wedding, along with my regular duties at the Police Center. I was beginning to wonder whether we were going to have a free weekend to make this trip.

To make matters worse, we're low on funds, thanks in part to my last letter/blog post telling folks not to feel compelled to donate to every event, since rotating donations generally manage to meet our financial needs. That was a mistake I won't ever repeat, and should I have another lapse in judgment, the blog editor has assured me that she has my back.

We managed to make the trip in spite of the lack of adequate funds. To do so, we had to reduce the number of children we took with us. We were unable to purchase any new fishing equipment and needed to cut back on fruit and snack foods. But we felt the chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers needed for S'more's were mandatory. We spent more than we received in donations.

Here's how the trip went. On the Friday before Memorial Day, Officer Dave Ware and I rounded up nine children right after school, loaded them into the DARE van and started on our journey northward on 81. Renee drove behind us in my pickup truck loaded with gear. My mother and her companion, Jim Gates, headed out from Palermo.

About an hour into our trip, we were nearing the Mannsville Rest Area where each long holiday weekend the volunteer fire department sets up a coffee stop. I can never drive by. It's not the coffee that draws me in. It's the dedication of these fine folks who give their time to benefit weary drivers. I knew the volunteers would be pleased to serve a DARE van full of children.

We pulled in, the kids piled out of the van, and we were promptly greeted by the smiling faces of the volunteers. The children each received a package of cookies or crackers and a cup of hot chocolate. As the volunteers chatted with the children, I admired their patience in answering each of the numerous questions the kids threw at them. Believe me they can ask a lot of questions.

As Officer Ware gathered the children back into the van, I dropped a twenty into the collection jar. Although I felt they deserved more, the weekend was just starting and I knew we were going to need the dollars.

We didn't travel much further before the "Are we there yet's?" started. After what seemed like a hundred or more "Almost's", we were driving down the driveway to camp. All three vehicles arrived at camp minutes apart.

Renee settled the girls in their bedroom while the boys brought their gear into the camper. We fired up the grill and Renee cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner. After we ate, the children gathered up wood for a campfire and a gooey dessert.

It was a challenge to keep the marshmallows, which were flaming on the end of nine 3' forks, out of the kid's hair before they could be squeezed between the chocolate and graham crackers being prepared by Renee and Dave.

Although one of the boys was quite small, we had to set a limit on the number of S'more's he was allowed to consume, as cooking marshmallows all night long was not part of the plan.

Around 11, Renee and Dave brought the girls inside. While Mom, Gates and I sat a bit longer around the fire with the boys, I conceded to their requests to hold long sticks in the fire.

Once the sticks were glowing red, the next concession was allowing "The Waving of the Glowing Sticks". The boys insisted that the circulating smoke would keep the bugs from biting us.

By midnight, I had inhaled more smoke than any passing bug and insisted it was time for bed. Although the boys denied being tired, they were asleep within 30 seconds of being tucked in.

The smell of bacon awoke me the next morning. The boys were out on the dock fishing with mother and Gates. Soon the girls got up and we all ate together. Renee likes to treat the children to a hot breakfast of bacon, hash, eggs and toast. We serve cereal as well, and most kids eat everything we offer them.

We were happy to find that none of the beds were wet. This is a problem we sometimes encounter, but thankfully, everyone rested well at my camp.

After breakfast, we loaded the kids in the van and drove a half mile down the road to the local bait store where we signed them all up for the "Tagged Fish Contest". Several hundred Panfish are caught, tagged and released back into the lake each Spring. If you purchase an entry form and later catch a tagged fish you win a prize. Prizes range from fishing poles to $5,000 cash.

During the weekend we must have caught and released 1,000 Panfish. Unfortunately, none of them were tagged. In past years, I have caught a couple of tagged fish and won $25.

It was a challenge dividing up the nine children between three rowboats and one canoe, each powered by an adult. Two of the boys who were assigned to the canoe had gone out earlier that morning with Dave in the rowboat. They told him they preferred the rowboat, which allowed them to move around inside much more than the canoe, which required them to sit still.

As Dave shared this fact with me, I pictured the canoe tipping over with all my gear floating to the bottom of the lake. So when it came to a choice between paddling a loaded canoe or rowing a loaded boat, I felt it was a better idea for me to deal with the canoe. This was Dave's first trip to my camp, after all, and I wanted him to come back.

At one point while anchored and fishing with two of the boys, a gust of wind blew across the lake. We watched Dave 100 yards away rowing for about 15 minutes against the wind, and it seemed as though he was hardly going anywhere.

Our days included fishing and swimming. The children were, of course, constantly on the move.

Still. whenever night came they had plenty of energy for S'more-making, stick-burning and bug-smoking until eventually I'd outlast them and put them to bed.

The weekend was a great time for all of us. You can view the pictures here.

To all of you folks who contribute to the Police Center, thank you for your support.

Until next time,

Officer Clarke

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Old Glory

"God Bless America" originally uploaded by ladybugbkt

"We do honor to the stars and stripes as the emblem of our country and the symbol of all that our patriotism means.

We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth.

It represents our peace and security, our civil and political liberty, our freedom of religious worship, our family, our friends, our home.

We see it in the great multitude of blessings, of rights and privileges that make up our country.

But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights, we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties.

Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done.

A yearly contemplation of our flag strengthens and purifies the national conscience."

- Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monster Jam Pics

Thank you to the many people who supported DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) by purchasing tickets to "Monster Jam".

Ticket sales doubled at the Police Center this year.

We're excited about this, because it means our new web site is achieving the goals we set. We hope you'll continue to become more involved with us and our programs as you get to know us better. We want to hear more from you. So please keep the emails coming, as well as the comments on our content.

Special thanks to Officer Diglio for supplying the pics of Monster Jam 2008, which was held over Memorial Day weekend at the New York State Fairgrounds.

If you're not familiar with DARE or GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training), check out the pics of our local programming and some of the links in this post. We'll be working with youth in the GREAT program again this summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Upstate Blogs

Our community is growing.

We're being featured on Upstate Blogs at, as part of a network of bloggers leaving our drift across the CNY blogosphere.

Welcome, new readers! We encourage you to subscribe to our blog and receive updates automatically. Make your voice heard through our blog, by leaving comments or sending them via email.

We thank Brian Cubbison for his interest.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Officer Clarke Receives "Officer Appreciation Award"

Congratulations!, originally uploaded by northsidepolice.

Officer Clarke Received the 2008 "Officer Appreciation Award" at "Light Up the Night", sponsored by the Neighborhood Watch Groups of Onondaga County.

Demonstrations by the Syracuse Police and Fire Departments included various forms of emergency response equipment. Check out the pics.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Congratulations to the Medal Recipients

Congratulations to all of the Syracuse police officers and firefighters who received medals and other recognition for their outstanding service to our community.

A special shout out goes to the two Syracuse police officers and this firefighter, whose performances included several lifesaving rescues that were recognized with the highest award, the Francis Hendrick's Medal.

How High The Price

How High The Price
John Tams

As we're remembering the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought and died on the beaches of Normandy on this day in 1944, we're especially grateful for the heroism of five brothers from a family of twelve, the Cappeletti's, from the North side.

Sean Kirst wrote about these courageous men in his column today, which includes a copy of a letter written by one of them who recently passed away.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

"If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?"

- Over The Rainbow,
Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen

“Words make you think thoughts,
Music makes you feel a feeling,
But a song makes you feel a thought.”

Yip Harburg

Among my fondest childhood memories is the fun we had putting on plays.

We kids would select a play from a book that contained scripts, and choose relevant music. Then we'd divvy up the roles and practice. Sometimes we'd just act out the play for our own enjoyment. Other times, we'd decide to invite a small audience.

Before the day of the event, we'd set up the stage, create a curtain and put some chairs and benches in place in the basement. Then we'd invite neighborhood kids and put on the performance. The adults would sneak in for a view and to lend support.

Of the plays attempted, the one we kept settling on was "The Wizard of Oz". We had the movie soundtrack and used it as the background music for the singers. One of our closest neighbor friends loved to sing, and she had a lovely voice. She was also brave enough to solo, and would practice at home singing along with the record for hours. Of course, she played Dorothy, and I never tired of hearing her sing "Over the Rainbow". She always sang it with so much feeling.

These memories came to mind as I viewed an interview with Margaret Pelligrini, one of the munchkins who visited the area last weekend for "Oz Stravaganza". She proclaims that nobody can sing "Over The Rainbow" like Judy Garland did, and she has heard many try. Just a glance over the comments beneath the video of Garland's performance at it's original source shows a tiny sample of the enormous impact this song has made and continues to make on people. Whenever it is heard, it evokes some thought or feeling about home.

For some, home is where they enjoy being and long to return, where one knows they are always safe and cared for. Home may be a state of existence others desire to recapture, like the carefree, happy feeling of childhood. Even those who have had humble or less than ideal home environments seem to hold the memories of their childhood dwelling place in high regard.

Sadly, home is not that kind of place for some children growing up. It may be a place from which a child longs to escape.

For these kids, home is where their basic needs are not met. When the needs of kids are neglected, the fundamental building blocks that help them function as well-adjusted adults may not be present. If they don't develop these assets somewhere along the way, they may make wrong choices that result in other problems, including violence and crime.

The story of Bill Strickland, highlighted in the post "What One Person Can Do", illustrates how a child who is at risk of these negative outcomes can be positively influenced by other caring adults. Strickland was cared for by a teacher and his wife, who taught him important life skills and treated him like family. As a result of his experience, Strickland went on to dedicate his life to helping other children in similar circumstances receive the kind of support they need to grow and thrive as adults.

Community Policing aims to address the issues that can prevent crime through various interventions, including the placement of Policing Centers with officers assigned full-time in neighborhoods. At the Northside Community Police Center (NCPC), Officer Clarke and the volunteers effort to create an environment that welcomes kids and makes them feel cared for.

The atmosphere of events at the NCPC feels close to that of a family environment for children. The adults have a good time, too. Seeing the happy expressions on their faces is very rewarding.

The pictures and cards available, as well as blog posts (tagged "events") and Officer Clarke's quarterly letters, chronicle these events. Supporters can see their donations and efforts were worthwhile, and participants can remember the fun they had.

The times spent with other adults and children during these events may create lasting memories that these kids will recall in future years. They may even produce a "Bill Strickland" someday.

What is one of your fondest childhood memories? Share it with us in the Comments.