Auxiliary Cops Are NYPD Eyes And Ears
Volunteer members of the New York City Police Department Auxiliary Police are dubbed the "eyes and ears of the NYPD".
Auxiliary cops are not issued guns. They are not issued bulletproof vests. They patrol the streets of Queens and the other boroughs day and night armed only with nightsticks, laying their lives on the line each time they hit the pavement.
The NYPD Auxiliary Police Department was established as a civil defense force 57 years ago, when the United States was in the midst of the Cold War.
Six volunteer Auxiliary Police Officers have died in the line of duty since the force was established in 1957, including Nicholas Pekearo, 28, and Eugene Marshalik, 19, who were executed on March 14 while following a deranged gunman who had shot and killed a Manhattan restaurant worker. The two cops were the first Auxiliary Police Officers to die in the line of duty in 14 years.
Volunteers must be 17 to 60 years old to join the Auxiliary Police. They must be U.S. citizens or have a green card, and they must possess a clean record.
Auxiliary recruits undergo 53 hours of training, including elements of law, radio instructions and "how to handle the nightstick".
Following the deaths of Pekearo and Marshalik, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the department will review training provided to Auxiliary cops to determine if changes are necessary to better equip Auxiliaries to handle street conditions.
Several Queens Auxiliary cops, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they "understand the dedication and the drive" that encouraged Pekearo and Marshalik to race after the deranged killer, David Garvin.
"It's just not in the training, and we are taught to avoid putting ourselves in dangerous situations," one of the Auxiliary cops said. "They weren't wrong to follow their instincts. Their actions definitely saved the lives of a number of other would-be victims, but their actions were out of the norm according to our training. It's a very difficult judgment call- deciding if you should put your safety on the line to make sure the bad guy gets caught."
Currently, Auxiliary cops purchase uniforms, handcuffs, flashlights and other routine equipment out of their own pockets. Auxiliary uniforms are almost identical to uniforms worn by regular NYPD officers. Auxiliaries wear light blue uniform shirts, while regular officers wear dark blue shirts. Auxiliary uniform patches replicate regular NYPD patches, but with the word, "Auxiliary" sewn at the top of the patch. Auxiliary shields are issued in the shape of a star, or sunburst, instead of the traditional shield worn by NYPD officers.
Auxiliary cops do not make arrests, but they are taught policing techniques on how to handle suspects waiting for arrest. The volunteer officers are also taught how to handle an arrest, in case they are asked to step into the shoes of NYPD officers.
Once they have completed training and graduated into the NYPD Auxiliary Police Department, the volunteer officers must complete 10 hours of duty each month, or 126 hours on the job each year.
Duties may include going on patrol on foot, in a car or on a bicycle. If the Auxiliary cops see something wrong, they are trained to call-in the condition to regular cops on police radios.
Auxiliary cops are routinely assigned to patrol street fairs and festivals, parades, protests and any large gathering that requires additional "eyes and ears" in the form of officers trained to spot crime conditions, police officials said. Many individuals interested in a career in law enforcement join the Auxiliary force as a steppingstone to help reach their goal, police officials said.
Kelly said last week's tragedy has also sparked a review to determine if Auxiliary cops should be issued guns.
Police officials said volunteers interested in joining the NYPD Auxiliary Police are urged prior to joining to speak with recruitment officers at local precincts for additional insight on the duties and "selfsafety techniques" offered to Auxiliary recruits.
All NYPD Auxiliary recruits are required to undergo drug and substance testing, along with a complete background check, including a probe of past criminal activity.
Anyone interested in joining the Auxiliary force at a local precinct can do so by calling the precinct Community Affairs Officer or the Auxiliary Unit for application, instructions and additional information.