In part one of “The Values of Small Town Policing” I introduced you to vital members of the departments structure. As I mentioned in that article, patrol is the foundation of the department. Therefore, I want this time to introduce you to the team that make up our patrol staff.

Each member of patrol brings a unique set of skills to the team. A little known fact is law enforcement is made up of kind of a two-fold job: educate and enforce. We educate the community in regards to new laws, codes, and ordinances. Sometimes we have to educate on an old law that goes unpracticed. Once educating loses its effectiveness, we turn to enforcement.

This brings me to our senior officer, Mitch Cooper. By senior I mean years in service to the department and community. Cooper brings a special talent to the educating portion of law enforcement. On many occasions Cooper has been known to sit with an offender, whether it be during a traffic stop or on a dispatched call, and give them his time.

Sometimes officers get in too big a hurry to write a citation and head to the next traffic stop or call. Not Mitch Cooper. He will conclude the call once the situation is completely understood by all. That is a star quality we can all learn from.

That is just one of many great qualities Cooper brings to your police department. He has had a hand in training a number of the newer officers over the years. Being a field training officer is a big job. It also means he is well trusted by his administration. He has been a great teacher, even to those of us who have been around a few years.

Next we have Nick McGehee. Nick spent a few years on our reserve team before moving up to a full-time position. Nick has dedicated his career to law enforcement. While working with our reserve team, Nick worked for the Florida Department of Corrections. Nick is an ambitious individual. He made himself an essential part of many special teams while working at FDOC. He educated himself on gang relations and how they may operate in and out of incarceration.

He also was part of a special response team that helped a number of correctional institutions across the state anytime their skills were required. This included responses to hostile inmate incidents, barricaded inmates, and much more.

These skills he learned help him obtain a special ability to relate to people. One thing I am proud of Nick for is his compassion. I have witnessed Nick pray with community members who felt their lives were in the lowest moments. It helps bring a level of peace when they know their officer is a man of great faith.

Moving on, we have Ryan Burress. Burress is a 16-year veteran of the United States Marines. Although he has not been on the department very long, Ryan exhibits a great leadership skills. With the training he received in the USMC, Burress has a way of rallying not only the officers, but anyone he is around. He brings a “team player” mentality to our department that is very helpful. He is quick to jump in and help wherever he is needed. No questions asked. No complaining. Just gets the job done. Burress continues to improve on his law enforcement skills each and every day.

Jose Becerra is our most recent addition to the full-time officer line-up. Becerra was born and raised here in Lake Placid. After graduation from Lake Placid High School, Becerra looked for ways to give back to his community. As soon as he was able, Becerra joined the law enforcement academy at South Florida State College. Upon graduating, Becerra wanted to make Lake Placid Police Department his home. We are proud to have Becerra and look forward to watching him grow in his career. He shows tremendous promise.

Richard Morey is the captain of our reserve team. He has dedicated over 30 years to the Lake Placid Police Department. Beginning as a patrolman, Morey moved up the ranks to sergeant and on some occasions “acting chief” in a time of leadership transition. A position within the South Florida State College (then South Florida Community College) Law Enforcement program became available and Morey became a coordinator for law enforcement training that would touch thousands of officers who attended SFSC throughout the years. His knowledge of criminal justice is second to none.

Among his duties on the reserve team, Morey is the training coordinator for our department. He keeps our officers, myself included, well versed in new statutes, laws, and ordinances, as well as maintaining a high level of professional training options for our officers. As a firearms instructor through Criminal Justice Standards and Training as well as the National Rifle Association (NRA), Morey will be lead instructor on our newest adventure of Concealed Carry classes, helping the public become aware of laws surrounding the rights to carry concealed firearms.

Morey has been a wealth of knowledge to our department and community.

Bryan Mampel is a valued member of our reserve team. Our reserve team usually consists of eight members. However, over the course of the past few years, we have had a few retire, move away, or take the position of full-time officers who have moved on to new chapters in their own careers. We are happy to have Bryan as a member of our Lake Placid Police family.

If you, or someone you know is interested in a position on our reserve team, we would love to meet with you and explain further or answer any questions you may have. Reserves offer new officers and retired officers an opportunity to be involved in a great community.

Again, I am thankful to work with all the members of the Lake Placid Police Department and the community of Lake Placid. We hope you see the value of a small police department in your community.

James Fansler is Lake Placid police chief. He can be reached at lakeplacidchief@gmail.com .

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