New Program Honors FPPD Officers for Outstanding Police Work
Two of Floral Park Police Department’s top cops were heralded for their exemplary police work at the board of trustees meeting on Dec. 7. Officers Stephan Drenckhahn and Robert Hayes received official citations from the village board and both were also named the first two recipients of the Cop of the Month Award.
Floral Park Police Commissioner Stephen McAllister, who has been in office since July 2010, wanted to create the new Cop of the Month program to honor police officers who are deserving of recognition for an outstanding arrest or taking initiative in some area of police work. “I think it’s important to recognize these guys for their efforts and it’s also important for their families to understand what exactly they are doing and that they are being recognized for it,” McAllister said.
McAllister chose Drenckhahn and Hayes, whom he described as young and hardworking individuals. During the month of October, they had six arrests total between the two of them. “I call them the dynamic duo, they’re are always out there…at 2 o’clock in the morning when we are all tucked safely in our beds. These guys are doing car stops, sometimes by themselves, sometimes together,” McAllister said.
The officers’ two most significant arrests were for apprehending a graffiti vandal from Sayville. They also apprehended someone whom McAllister considered a potential predator. “He was driving in a Crown Victoria, which is a common vehicle used for policing, tinted windows, siren, lights, bogus identification shield like an EMS worker. If you’d flash it quick, you think he was a police officer or detective,” McAllister said.
“These are the type of guys that we know have accosted women in unlawful car stops posing as police officers. He was charged with criminal impersonation of a police officer. Just through their diligence and being out there and stopping cars, they come across it,” he added.
The Cop of the Month program will be ongoing, but there may not always be 12 recipients a year, according to McAllister. “For the month of November, it’s going to be John Groshans for all his work in relation to juvenile crime, cyber bullying, Internet safety. These kids get on all these websites and they don’t realize there are predators there trying to set them up and taking advantage of them,” he said.
Groshans, an officer for 21 years in Floral Park Police Department, was not selected for a particular arrest, but for his work in relation in juvenile crime and the schools. “He is my resource into all the schools. We serve three primary schools, two public and one Catholic, and then we have the high school…They all love him and he has a really good rapport with them. I am actually looking to expand his role as juvenile liaison officer,” he said, adding, “We’re going to recognize him for his efforts. He has been doing this for a while.”
McAllister indicated the role needs to be expanded as a result of juvenile crime in the local area. “One of the main problems I am confronting in Floral Park is juvenile misconduct, juvenile crime. Sometimes it’s juvenile delinquency; sometimes it’s actual crime. The crime is usually public intoxication, unlawful possession of alcohol or drugs, criminal mischief, marijuana and pills are very popular with this age group from [age] 16-20. Pills are prolific…we’ve seen a lot of pills,” McAllister said.
Another issue confronting police is Internet safety for middle school students, which McAllister says is a big concern. He added that they have given presentations to address cyber bullying issues at the high school level. “We are trying to prevent it rather than react to some significant event and we’re trying to give these kids some education prior to their actually logging on and getting exploited,” he said.
With the holiday season in full swing, the department is currently collaborating on presenting educational programs about the perils of alcohol, which will be directed at not only students but their parents, as well. “That’s a big phenomenon within Floral Park. It’s very commonplace for underage drinking. It’s almost an accepted norm it seems. We just want to warn the parents, as well as the students, of what some of these consequences are because in their mental and even physical development, alcohol, especially abuse of it, could have tragic circumstances for them and they don’t realize it,” McAllister said.