Retired police seeking comrades

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:58

    Vernon — Five retired police officers from Sussex County are among a group starting up corps for their colleagues. The Police Rangers, says Paul Dittmar of Vernon, was first introduced by several towns in Bergen County back in 1980. The Rangers are an emergency response team comprised of volunteers who were trained in hostage negotiations and to deal with drug raids, barricaded subjects, riot control and other tough situations, Dittmar explained. “Their most memorable call-out was on 9/11 and they were more than welcomed by the NYPD.” They were also called to assist during a riot at Bergen County jail, when two guards were taken hostage and the jail was set on fire. Dittmar says the Rangers responded along with other tactical units; the guards were safely released and peace was restored. Dittmar is a retired chief of the Leonia Police force. He’s got two other Vernon residents and two Hamburg residents, all retired police, who are looking to start the local Police Rangers group. He says the members will organize a training schedule around the area, with the goal of creating an intensely trained team whose members can work together when called upon. The corps of retirees will share several common attributes. In addition to being “eager to serve again,” Dittmar says: “We may be a little older and a littler grayer but our enthusiasm and patriotism is very much intact.” Training would include shooting the same course as police officers do and twice yearly qualifications on those courses with a police service weapon. Pointing to the many years of service Rangers possess, Dittmar says, “There is not too much that these Rangers have missed during their long careers. Any police department could benefit with some input as to what did work or what did not work for them under similar circumstances.” He cautioned that “nevertheless, we know that we are not ‘police officers’ anymore and that we do not have any police authority. But we do know,” he says, “that we are still police officers in our hearts and our only goal is to help in any way possible, even if it is just to watch the backs of police officers or bring our fellow police officers coffee and doughnuts and keep an eye on their vacant patrol cars and equipment while they restore order.”