Westport, NY Feed

Planned project: Law enforcement map of the Adirondack Park

I am planning a Google Maps project explicating the bewildering array of police jurisdictions within the Adirondack park and would welcome input from people with some expertise in this subject. The Adirondack Park is a state park that occupies roughly 23% of the State of New York.

Most of the towns within the park do not have their own police forces -- exceptions being places with a robust tax base such as Lake Placid.

For the most part, the law enforcement agencies operating in these towns are not answerable to local town government.

NY State Police squad car is running & keys are in the ignition; no troopers are in evidence

In Essex County, where I now live, there are at least four police forces operating. There are the New York State Troopers, seen mostly along the highways, but also acting as the primary law enforcement agency in many areas. 

Then there is the Essex County Sheriff's Department which has just built an enormous jail in a county with almost no crime to speak of (one murder recorded in a five year period). The Sheriff's department administers the jail which apparently makes money for the county by renting out space to other counties with less capacious accommodations. The jail, called the "Essex County Public Safety Building," is at 702 Stowersville Rd. in Lewis, NY just off exit 32 on Interstate 87 (the Northway), so drive carefully near exit 32.

Orwelian name for the county jail: Essex County Public Safety Building

The squad cars of the Essex County Sheriff's Deputies look like this:

Essex Co. NY deputy

And then there are the New York State Forest Rangers:

NY State Forest Ranger


In Westport, I don't see them around much except in the winter when they stop into Ernie's, next door, for some hot food.

And then there is the United States Border Patrol. Who knew that there was an international border through the Adirondack Park? (Perhaps Homeland Security has found a gateway in the park to R'lyeh, the sunken city where the godlike being Cthulhu is buried?)

International border or no, the Border Patrol operates a check point on Interstate 87 in southern Essex County. This is apparently a post 9/11 Homeland Security thing for the purpose of inspecting vehicles for "illegal immigrants, narcotics, terrorists and terrorist weapons." I was hoping the Border Checkpoint 65 miles south of the border was going away when Obama came into office, but it isn't gone yet. (I find this deeply irritating.)

While I doubt they've caught any terrorists there yet, this checkpoint is probably good for providing billable involuntary tourists for the town of Lewis, NY, mentioned above.

In any case, these different police forces have radically different mandates, training, and patterns of behavior. What I would like to do is create a Google Maps Field Guide to law enforcement in the Adirondacks complete with identifying photos and police scanner frequencies.

I will probably start with Essex County, since the Adirondack Park is big. I would appreciate receiving information about publicly available data that might be useful for this project.

What my life in Essex County teaches me is that it is important to know who you are talking to before you talk to a cop around here.

Also, one thing I would like to know about is what, if any, policing is outsourced to private companies within the park. It is my impression that none of it is, but this assumption could be mistaken.

A process of sunrise, 8/31/09

It is the kind of sunrise for which you have to wait for the complex display of light that will inevitably come. Patience. Put on the coffee pot and get the camera from the basement.

The sky is clear and blue-grey, with only feathery clouds up high. The lake is rough, but without whitecaps. The usual sailboats are there in silhouette, but without reflections. Heavy dark storm clouds hang over the Vermont horizon, the scraps of a passing hurricane. But there are gaps and the sunlight finds them: the profile of the Green Mountains becomes clear in subtle shades of gray, while the topmost storm clouds radiate holy light. The high clouds are pastel yellow now.

The coffee smells good and you are impatient, but it would be unwise to walk away just now because you know the sun in about to break through.

A faint strip of gold stretches across the lake even though you cannot see the sun. A few ducks are swimming in the brook that empties to the lake, but not the heron this morning, unless it is hiding in the reeds by the bridge.

The gold strip disappears. A flock of swallows flies by.

sunrise 8/31/09

Now the sun breaks the cloud horizon, and at first there is no gold strip, but then it grows. The ducks in the brook swim as a group to the lake. The tops of the storm clouds look like fluffy yellow cotton candy. The strip of sunlight has the texture of dragon's scales. A nearby bird cheeps and cheeps as though announcing the sunrise. The sunlight warms your skin. The drama is over. You get the coffee.