Suffern Police Department History
Suffern Police Department formed: In 1896, Suffern had a population of approximately 1,200 and the first Police Chief William N. Smith headed a department of 3 part time officers who patrolled the village on bicycles. Smith operated the department by telephone out of his home. The village’s first jail cell was attached to James Comesky’s lumberyard on Wayne Ave.
The village’s first homicide occurred in 1913 when a Suffern grocer was killed on the street over a card game dispute.
The village has another homicide, this one being when Cerry Palmerazzo killed Thomas Cheche in broad daylight using a shotgun. According to news accounts at the time, Cheche had run off with Palmerazzo’s daughter Helen who was between 18-20 years old without the fathers permission.
Chief Charles L. Lunney motorized the department with Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Chief William J. Thornhill was the first Suffern officer to die in the line of duty. Thornhill died in a motorcycle crash in July while pursuing a speeding motorist on Orange Ave. After the incident, the department abandoned its motorcycle patrols. Chief William J. Thornhill is one of the many police officers honored on the “National Law Enforcement Memorial” in Washington, DC.
First and only use of deadly physical force: While on patrol, Lt. William A. Crouse responded to The Dinette on Lafayette Ave. for a report of a disorderly man inside. Upon entering Lt. Crouse was struck in the head by an instrument, causing him to sustain a critical injury, this being a fractured skull. Lt. Crouse managed to fire his service revolver at the attacker at this time, striking and killing him.
A police booth built on Orange Ave. in the 1920’s is replaced by a brick structure to house the police department.
Lt. Edson Thompson dies in the line of duty after suffering a heart attack while commanding the villages 4th of July parade.
Expanding: The department had outgrown its facilities on Orange Ave. and moved to its present location at 61 Washington Ave.
Suffern became the first Rockland County police department to be fully equipped with 9mm semi-automatic weapons.
Suffern hires its first police woman. Today, the department has two female officers, Sgt. Deirdre Smith and Det. Anne Cawley.
Suffern officers coordinate efforts to assist Florida residents affected by Hurricane Andrew. The Suffern Police Department spearheaded a massive effort to send supplies to the most needed areas including Homestead, Fl. Seven Suffern officers responded to Florida to deliver these supplies on their own time.
DARE : The Suffern Police DARE Unit started in October, 1993. Officer Clarke Osborn was the first DARE Officer in the district and after receiving his DARE training in Saratoga Springs, NY he started teaching the curriculum at the Richard P. Connor, Sacred Heart, Viola and Montebello Elementary Schools. “Officer Clarke” as he is referred to by the youth of the community taught in these schools for 10 years upon being promoted to Sergeant in January, 2003. The DARE program is currently coordinated by DARE Officer Jim Giannettino who teaches in all four of the above schools.
K-9: The team of PO Lou Venturini and K-9 Aran became Suffern’s first K-9 team in early 1993. This team worked together for over 10 years, including a detail at the World Trade Center following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. K-9 Aran passed away in 2004 after diligently serving the village. In 2004, PO Venturini took on his second K-9 partner, this being K-9 Hero. This team continues to serve our community well into the new decade. For more information please go to our K-9 page on this website.
The police department has it’s inaugural season of DARE Street Hockey. This league, originally for 5th and 6th graders has it’s first season of games at the Suffern Community Center.
The Suffern Police Department established itself on the web with the introduction of www.suffernpolice.com.
The Suffern DARE Corvette is named as the winner of Matchbox toys DARE vehicle contest and is made into a Matchbox toy to be sold throughout the nation. Suffern took top honors and was named “National Champion”.
9/11: The police department held a drive to assist the rescue workers during the 9/11 search and recovery efforts and also sent officers to assist including PO Lou Venturini and K-9 Aran along with Officer Anne Cawley who served as a search and rescue team.
All Suffern patrol vehicles are equipped with Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) to assist with cardiac arrest patients.
DARE hockey rink built on Yorkshire Dr. As the department’s Street Hockey League continued to grow a new rink was built through community donations and continues to this day to be the home of DARE hockey.
Mobile video cameras were installed in all patrol cars. These systems allow officers to record quality video and audio of traffic stops, emergency responses and other law enforcement activity.
Several Suffern officers coordinate a community collection of supplies and goods for victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. These officers, on their own time, transport these items to Waveland, MS for the needy families.
Suffern changes it’s patrol car design to a black and white style.
TASER: The department, through community donations, equips its officers with TASERS for controlling combative subjects. PO Rick Marsh and PO Mike Sanford serve as the department’s TASER Instructors.
Motorcycle Unit: After 75 years without a unit, the motorcycle was brought back into play and made a part of Suffern PD. This unit serves a host of duties including parades, patrol use as well as traffic enforcement. The departments motorcycle is a 2009 Harley Davidson. Suffern’s two motorcycle officers are Sgt. John Gloede and PO Glen Wilson.
TRACS: The department has it’s patrol cars equipped with the TRACS system in which officers can electronically issue traffic violations and complete accident reports.
LIVESCAN: Suffern PD acquired a LIVESCAN machine which is an automated fingerprint system to quickly ascertain a person’s identity. LIVESCAN takes a person’s set of prints and electronically exports them to several databases to check on a person’s identity. It is able to determine a person’s true identity and can reveal a person’s criminal background. The unit was purchased with seizure money acquired by the Suffern Police Department K-9 Unit.
Accreditation: In December, 2009 the Suffern Police Department, after 2 years of preparation received the elite title as serving as a New York State Accredited Police Department. The standards for this program are set by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services which oversees the program and the over 130 standards that must be met. Suffern’s program is coordinated by Lt. John Bonkoski and Sgt. Jon DiRoma
Welcome to the Suffern Police Department homepage. For the past 100 plus years our department has been providing exemplary service to our community.
The Suffern Police Department, formed in 1896, presently serves approximately 14,000 residents who reside in a 2.5 square mile village.
Main Office: 845.357.2300
For Emergencies: 911
61 Washington Avenue
Suffern, NY 10901
For Emergencies: 911
61 Washington Avenue
Suffern, NY 10901