Thursday, June 17, 2010

Firearms Training

Some words of advice to anyone who has ever thought about becoming a criminal:
Do not wear this mask while committing a crime.

If you have been wondering why I am just getting around to putting up blog posts from Easter Events, this guy is the reason. I have been a Police Department Firearms Instructor for over 20 years. Due to Departmental Needs, I was instructing on the Firearms Range for eight consecutive weeks. Although I attempted to keep a day a week open for Police Center operations, it didn't always work out that way. Now that I am back, I am still chasing my tail, but I am slowly catching up.

In addition to qualifying on a paper target course, the training included "force on force training." This scenario based training involves the use of handguns (same make as ours) that fire a non-lethal paint-loaded projectile. Officers are presented with scenarios where they engage adversaries that think, move, and shoot back. This type of training allows officers to participate in realistic training scenarios where mistakes can be exploited and corrections made with out the loss of life.

The mask in the photo is the one I wore while playing an adversary who, most often, used deadly physical force against a police officer or citizen in the scenarios. Needless to say, I got shot, wrestled to the ground, and handcuffed a lot.

Although, the eight weeks of instructing firearms training put me behind at the Police Center, I find it very rewarding to belong to a Police Department committed to providing its officers with the highest quality of policing skills. Such skills equip us to serve and protect the citizens of our city.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

Our Soap Box Derby Racers

Four of our kids from the Police Center had the opportunity to experience, for the first time, racing in the Soap Box Derby. Thanks to the generosity of one of our most fervent supporters, the two sets of twins from the Daily family (Hunter, Takota, Nevada and Sam Daily) each had the chance to drive down the S. Geddes St. hill in a Soap Box Car.

In the weeks prior to the race the boys attended their practices held on Grant Blvd. into the Alliance Bank Stadium Parking lot. This gave the boys their chance to closely examine these strange looking cars and take them for a test spin. Gaining confidence from their practice drives, the boys were ready for the race. Although the the boys were not top place finishers in the race, the entire Daily family enjoyed the event, and plans are already in motion for next year's race.

All-American Soap Box Derby History
Taken from the 2010 Soap Box Derby Program, pg 36:

The Soap Box derby is a youth racing program that has run nationally since 1934. It has been called "The Greatest Amateur Racing Event In the World." The Soap Box Derby started when a Dayton, Ohio Photographer, Myron Scott, was covering a race of boy-built cars in his community. He was so impressed with this event that he acquired a copyright for the idea and began development of a similar event on a national scale. the race became an annual event and expanded throughout America.

The goals of the Soap Box Derby are to encourage close youth-adult activities while building and racing the car. The construction of the gravity racecar reinforces the importance of setting and completing goals while developing such traits as self-confidence, perseverance and craftsmanship. Regardless of the outcome of the race, each youngster is a winner, as they have shared a memorable experience with their advisor. I especially like this quote from pg 5:

"It's better to build children than to repair adults"
~Fredrick Douglas

A big thank you to all the people who work so hard to bring the Soap Box Derby to Syracuse Children. A lot of hard work is required for this event. If you would like to learn more, help out, or donate to the event, visit
Congrats to all who participated.

Officer Clarke

Volunteer Fire Department Training (burning down the old farmhouse)

It was time to say goodbye to the old farmhouse I lived in for a short time as a baby. The Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department along with some Hammond VFD folks utilized the structure for a training. How wonderful it was that the training coincided with our fishing trip. The farmhouse is across the street from the lake. We all piled onto my trailer for a safe place to watch the training.

The Firemen and Firewomen did a great job providing the children with an up-close look at firefighting. As you can see from the photos it was an impressive fire. For us city-folk it was a lesson in all the extra work that needs to be done to fight a fire without the assistance of fire hydrants. Trucks ran back and forth to the lake to fill up with water, returned to the yard, emptied the load into the holding pool, which was then sprayed onto the fire. It was a fun and exciting experience for the children. Now they all want to be Firefighters rather than Police Officers.

Mom and Jim were up for the weekend. It was a bittersweet time for her to watch the house burn as she reflected on memories of us living there 50 years ago. My grandfather purchased the land in 1957. I sold my camp and purchased my Dad's place when he was fighting cancer. Last week I bought out my aunt and uncle's interest in the farm. I now own 10 acres in all and can accomplish some things that need to be done before I retire and move up there.

Thank you to Brier Hill and Hammond VFD for getting the job done and the great learning experience for the children. I admire all of our VFD families who volunteer their time and efforts for our communities.

Officer Clarke

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Fishing Trip on Black Lake

Our scheduled Bullhead Fishing Trip in April had to be postponed because of unforeseen Police Department staffing needs (the day we planned to leave got red lined). We were unable to reschedule until May 21st (a little too late for good bullhead fishing). However, it was much warmer and we could not have picked a more beautiful weekend.

The bluegills and sunfish were biting which gave the children lots of action on their fishing poles. Officer Burdick took some of the children out in a rowboat, some fished from canoes, while others fished from the dock. Plenty of fish were caught and released--and some were saved for the frying pan.

The weather was exceptionally warm, allowing the children to spend a lot of time swimming or playing on the Slip 'n' Slide. We also taught the older children how to safely tip over the canoes while out in the lake. Once they mastered rolling the canoes, emptying the water from them, and starting over, they teamed up and played games trying to tip each other over. It started out girls against the boys, but once a canoe was tipped over, it appeared to be everyone in the water against the up-righted canoe. It's amazing how difficult it is to tip over a canoe when you have two people inside working as a team to prevent it. Eventually, they would get it tipped, but it required a lot of work from the swimmers in the water.

One of the girls in the fishing boat with Officer Burdick saw the kids swimming and having fun with the canoes and wanted to jump out of the boat and swim to the other kids. Officer Burdick, who was rowing towards the dock, insisted she wait until he got a little closer. Once they were close to the dock and the other kids, she yelled towards the shore to us (her father, who was a chaperone on the trip, and I), asking if she could jump now. We all gave her the go ahead and she jumped into the water. As soon as she was in the water, she panicked and began screaming. Her father sprung to his feet and began running toward the dock. Foreseeing a nasty belly flop and a needless rescue, I yelled for the girl to stand up. Officer Burdick, in the boat next to her, echoed for her to stand up. Just seconds before her father reached the end of the dock, she stood up, said "Oh," and waded over to play with the other children in the water.

We also, managed to get some ATV riding time in over the weekend. Officer Burdick mowed a large circle in the middle of our 5 acre hayfield across the road from the Lake while I rode with the kids on the ATV. The circle in the middle of the open field was ideal for the children who were big enough to operate an ATV. They could drive around, following the mowed path for a couple of laps (I rode with them of course). Once Officer Burdick was done mowing, he drove the smaller children around the field for a ride.

After dark we had campfires and made smores. It is always a challenge for us adults to manage multiple pointed metal sticks with flaming marshmallows on the end. We have a pretty good system until one of the children decides to extinguish their flaming marshmallow by waving their stick rather than by blowing it out. There were no injuries to report other than the warm tongue my Labs usually get because they are watching and waiting for such an opportunity. After making and eating numerous smores, several games of Hide and Seek took place with Officer Burdick leading the way. He considered himself to be fast and sly in Hide and Seek, but he was no match for the kids, especially AJ, who is also quite quick and sneaky. Once Officer Burdick tired the children out, it was time to head to bed to rest up for the next day.

On Saturday afternoon, one severe thunderstorm drove us all inside the house for an hour. We had snacks and played games until the storm passed and then it was back outside to enjoy the outdoors. We even received a surprise visit from a few swans this weekend, something you don't see too often on Black Lake.

We took 16 children on this trip, and we all had a great weekend. Thank you to all who made our trip possible. Your donations are valuable to us. Although, at least one of us adults is outside watching the kids at all times, we still require them to wear a life vest anytime they walk on the dock, swim, or go out in a boat/canoe. It's a rule they have easily adopted, and they are faithful to remind each other to put on their life vests. Most of the vests I own can't take the abuse the children give them (I generally have to discard 1 or 2 per trip). Thus, life vests are constantly needed and any donations are greatly appreciated. If you are willing to help provide them for the children, vests with zip fronts plus the buckles are the best for our use (if the kids break off a buckle, the zipper still keeps the vest on). As you can see from our photos, we use vests of all sizes (5yr-adult). You can even see AJ still wearing his life vest when we celebrated his Birthday Saturday night (when the kids get one of the zip vests on, they don't want to take it off). Another item much needed at the camp is paddles and oars. I have 4 canoes and 4 rowboats at the camp, but I do not have enough paddles and oars to allow all of those canoes to be in the water at the same time.

Our next summer camping trip is scheduled for July (possibly the 9th - 11th).
Once again, thank you for all your support,

Officer Clarke

Monday, June 7, 2010

Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department Easter Event

The Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department is located a few miles from my camp on Black Lake. I had met with Fire Chief Shawn Macaulay a year ago to discuss burning down our old farm house as a training. During our conversation we talked about programs at the Police Center and about how the Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department likes to reach out to the community in a similar fashion. Chief Macaulay piqued my interest because I knew I would want to continue working with children after I retired from the Police Department and moved to Black Lake.

After our Easter Party at the Police Center we had a good amount of eggs left over (which is unusual). I always spend my Easter weekend at Black Lake, and earlier I had seen on Brier Hill's Facebook page that they were having a free pancake breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt the Saturday morning before Easter. I called and left a message for Betty Lowery of the Ladies Auxiliary, stating I had some eggs and a few coloring kits the Police Center would like to pass onto them for their Easter Event. A short time later, Betty returned my call, excited about adding egg coloring to their event. The next thing I knew, I had volunteered Renee, Mom, Mom's boyfriend and myself to color eggs at the Pancake Breakfast.

Friday, I drove to the Firehouse, met with Betty, discussed how we would like the tables set up for the coloring and dropped off the eggs to be boiled. We then continued onto Black Lake where Mom had arrived ahead of us. Mom already had her idea of how the weekend was going to go---cards Friday night till midnight or later, get up early, eat breakfast, fish all day and repeat the same the next night (a nice relaxing weekend). I wasn't sure how I was going to break the news about this egg coloring event that was right in the middle of her weekend. After unloading at the camp, I sat down to take a breather. Right away, Mom asked,
"When are we going to take the eggs to the Firehouse? You don't want to leave them in the truck too long or they will spoil." I wasn't ready to talk about the egg coloring yet. I wanted to wait till we were playing cards; we would all be more relaxed then. I told Mom that we already dropped them off on the way.
"That's good," Mom said, "now we don't have to worry about that." Hmm, if she thought dropping the eggs off was going to slow her plans, wait till she hears about coloring eggs with the children.

"Well Mom," I said, "I met this really nice ol 'lady when I dropped off the eggs; she thought it might be nice if we came and helped color them with the children tomorrow."

"Oh, no Jimmy, oh no, you didn't?" Mom asked.

"Mom, it will be fun," I said, "plus, we don't have to make breakfast."

"On no Jimmy," Mom said again.

"Mom, it won't be that bad; it's only for a few hours," I said, "besides, it's what I do; I like working with kids." Mom thought for a second and replied,

"Yes, you do, yes, you do, oh okay."
The next morning we arrived early at the Firehouse, ate breakfast and set up before most of the families arrived. It wasn't long before lines of children formed in front of us to color their own eggs.

Betty told us they generally serve around 300. I didn't doubt it; the place was packed. After a couple hours of coloring eggs and getting a family photo with the Easter Bunny, the Easter Egg hunt began. The event drew everyone outside to a field of several thousand plastic eggs filled with candy.

What a great time everyone had, especially me. I think I found a great place to volunteer when I retire. One of my requirements before I retire has been met.

Officer Clarke

Easter Party 2010

We served over 300 children, plus parents, at our Children's Easter Party this year. Families enjoyed free hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, Frito Lays chips and a beverage while they colored their eggs. With such a large number attending the party, we took families in shifts. As soon as a family ate, colored eggs, visited the Easter Bunny, received an Easter Basket and left, we cleared the table and a new family was immediately seated. It seemed the line waiting to come in the door would never end.

It was a very busy night for our volunteers who cooked, served food and cleaned up many messes (which we expected). I was grateful for the help we received from Officer Burdick's Volunteers from the Butternut Community Police Center. They were a tremendous help. We would not have been able to keep up with the families without them.

I am so fortunate to have such wonderful bunch of people who give of their time and donations to support our programs. Thank you, to several dentists who donated toothbrushes and toothpaste. You made it possible for us to include them in every child's Easter Basket. And thank you to all who donated items or funds to help make our party possible.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke