Our Town: Auxiliary police help keep WP safe

Dr Tom Ferraro

I remember learning about the law of entropy back in high school physics. I think it stated that all systems will not remain the same but rather devolve into chaos over time. 

This not only holds true in physics but is equally true about my desk. The messes just keep on piling up and unless I tend to them my patients begin to worry about me. Well the law of entropy is also true for every town in America. A town will not be clean and safe unless there is an army of people tending to it. 

When I walk around Williston Park I always feel safe and protected. I never see graffiti and rarely if ever see strange or threatening people on the streets. Even the kids seem to be in pretty good control of themselves. 

And this is not because we happen to be lucky or have good karma. It’s because there is a group of people whose job it is to keep us safe. 

I am referring here to the Williston Park Auxiliary Police, run by Jean Tranchina with a staff of nine volunteers. 

I sat down with Jean last week to chat and to take a tour of our town. Her staff has nine months of training at the police academy where they learn about the law, CPR, first aid, traffic control and how to respond to critical incidents. 

She said her job is to function as the eyes and ears of the Nassau County Police. She explained to me that we have a four tiered system of protection with the 3rd Precinct Nassau County Police department on top, followed by the Williston Park Auxiliary Police, Village of Williston Park Mayor Ehrbar and the Neighborhood Watch run by Doreen Ehrbar. Jean’s staff has support from both Williston Park and Nassau County. 

Her main focus is to curb speeding in town and to prevent mischief when large groups of teens gather. Her staff manages traffic during parades, fires and other emergencies. Her hope in this interview is to allow the community to understand who her staff is and what they all try to do. 

We then took a ride around town and as we drove down Hillside Avenue toward the tracks she noted the danger downhill speeding traffic presented between Willis Avenue and the railroad tracks. She then came up with the single most important comment I have heard in one year of interviews. 

She wondered aloud why they don’t change these four lanes to two like in Steward Manor. She said that this would improve the parking problem, slow traffic and make the avenue more user friendly to shoppers and pedestrians. 

I recalled what Hyeryun Hong told me a few weeks ago as she sat with me on a bench on Hillside. “The fact that the cars are whizzing by here going 40 mph makes it impossible to feel safe or relaxed.” 

I was actually shocked as Jean was talking because the idea was so simple and so good. “I am sure others have thought about this but maybe politics gets in the way” she said. Politics or not I think it’s true that the avenue would become more charming and user friendly.  

I learned last week that the charm and quaintness of a town is not a trivial matter. 

The city planner of Carmel-by-the-Sea told me his town receives about 1,500,000 visitors per year to soak in its charm and beauty. And lest we think that charm and beauty are silly matters think about how much money every storekeeper makes in that little town by the sea.

And now I hear the social critic James Howard Kunstler whispering in my head how impossible it was to change zoning laws and that this is one of the biggest reasons for lack of change in suburban life. 

And then I remembered the second law of physics, that of inertia: An object at rest tends to remain at rest. So enough with these silly dreams of how Williston Park could change itself into one of those wonderful walking towns like Carmel or Padua or Florence.  

No matter what the future holds it is very nice to know that we have a group of selfless volunteers who are there watching over us as we sleep. 

They are touring the town each and every night like our own team of Batmen and Batwomen looking out for this little Gotham City of ours. We are all better off for it. 

So thanks Jean Tranchina and thanks to that generous community minded staff of yours. We live and work in a safe place thanks to you.

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