In a showing of commitment during uncertain times, Alderman-at-Large Austin Tylec of the City of North Tonawanda joined the NT Police Department for a ride-along during a midnight shift.
Tylec, an advocate for the department since taking office, donned equipment provided by the department, including a bulletproof vest, and accompanied Officer Erik Herbert on his shift from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. On the shift, Tylec recalled events ranging from officers dealing with drug-related crimes and domestic disputes, to community members thanking the officers for their service and purchasing them food.
Tylec said his goal was to experience firsthand the work being done by officers of the NTPD in the community and to get a better understanding of how members of local law enforcement are feeling in this current climate.
“We need our police,” Tylec said. “When bad things happen in our community, we know we can call on them, we know we can trust in them, and I am grateful for them.”
Tylec has been a vocal advocate for police during his tenure – lack of funding of police department requests was a crux of Tylec’s “nay” vote on the most recent city budget. Tylec said he believes, oftentimes, politicians are unaware of the impact of policy they create that law enforcement must implement – a belief expressed by several in the law enforcement community that Tylec has held discussions with.
“With the newly adopted criminal justice reform coming out of Albany, I don’t think there is any way for an elected official to fully grasp how this affects the day-to-day jobs of our members of law enforcement without experiencing it first hand – this experience was eye opening,” Tylec said.
Tylec’s press release said, “The NTPD, during this time of social distancing and a concern for public health, will likely be unable to carry out its annual community involved events. These events include National Night Out, child safety seat checks, ‘Hot Dogs for Seniors’ and ‘Coffee with a Cop.’ ”
“I think it’s more important now than ever to have events that connect the residents with their local law enforcement,” Tylec said.
He is working with the newly elected Police Benevolent Association President and Chief Krantz to host a variety of socially distanced community events that will bring the community together and “bridge the gap between the people of North Tonawanda and law enforcement.” Tylec also said he hopes other community leaders will take advantage of opportunities to familiarize themselves and connect with the local law enforcement community.