As the members of the Hamptons Police force readied for their departure on Monday for their month-long winter break in Acapulco, volunteers who signed up to cover in the officers’ absence have been stepping up their training.
According to Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch, the paid force’s officers have been very impressed with the acumen of the volunteer trainee forces, and they’re highly confident the volunteers will be able to cover law enforcement reasonably well while the professionals are out of town. “Are they as polished as our veteran officers? No, of course not,” says Hirsch. “Are they full of energy and ready to do their best? Absolutely.”
Last weekend, the volunteers were sent out to take on patrols and enforcement duties for the first time without professional supervision—always a nerve-wracking experience for all involved, Hirsch says, chuckling. “It’s like sending your teenaged daughter out on her own with a new boyfriend—you don’t know who’s more nervous, you or them!”
Hirsch says the volunteers’ maiden voyage weekend went fairly well, though there were a few incidents. Two squad cars were wrecked when volunteer drivers took them careening into traffic in a “wrong way chase” on Sunrise Highway that turned out to be completely unnecessary. “They thought they saw somebody driving the wrong way out there. It was dark, and some guy threw a lit cigarette out of his car window, which in the dark can look like a taillight heading the wrong way. It was a rookie mistake, but it could have happened to anyone, really.”
Luckily, no serious injuries were reported from the resulting crash, though three civilian cars were severely damaged along with the squad cars.
In another incident, a volunteer officer, who had not received adequate firearm instruction, discharged his police-issued handgun into his own foot.
“He was trying to show off by twirling it around,” Hirsch says. “He’s going to be sitting volunteer month out.”
Preliminary statistics show volunteers issued very few tickets over the weekend, but Hirsch notes this doesn’t trouble the Hamptons Police. “Our view is, as long as they keep themselves and the area in basically one piece while we’re gone, we’re happy. It’s not every community that can rely upon a stable group of dedicated volunteers willing to give of their time and energy to help out with policing while all of their exhausted professional police officers get some much needed R and R in sunny Mexico. So we’re not going to quibble about a few tickets. We love this place, and we can’t wait to come back tanned and refreshed from Acapulco to whip things back into shape!”