(Ed.s note: The following letter was sent to the Port Washington Police District Commissioners is reprinted here at the writer's request.)
And a Merry Christmas to you. There is nothing quite like receiving a Christmas present in the form of a ticket from your department the Saturday before Christmas.
I hardly think making a left hand turn onto Main Street from the street on which Falconer's Florist is located, clearing the eastbound lane with absolutely nothing coming in the opposite direction is obstructing traffic. There is heavy traffic on Main Street on the Saturday before Christmas. If I did not, at the very least, move into position into the west bound side of the intersection to move once the light changed and the traffic proceeded, I would have been at that intersection, backing up traffic for quite a while. Your Officer R.J. Faria, badge # 161 claimed that I was obstructing traffic by not clearing the intersection. Mr. Commissioner, no traffic was being obstructed, and the traffic moved freely once the light changed. I stood on that corner for about 15 minutes after being issued the ticket and at every turn of the light, cars did the exact same thing. I did notice, however, Officer Faria pulling people over on Port Washington Blvd. for the exact maneuver.
Main Street in Port Washington, the Saturday before Christmas, is teeming with shoppers supporting the local merchants. If the police are going to pull drivers over for, in my case, a turn that is done everyday and one that I have done thousands of times in consideration for drivers behind me, I think you will be driving consumers away from downtown. I have some additional Christmas shopping to do, but I will do it at the mall thanks to your police officer and what he claimed as being there on your direction. Don't you think that if there are intersections in town that you feel might cause delays in traffic that you could post an officer there to direct traffic? I think Officer Faria would have offered the community a tremendous service by helping the flow of traffic rather than issuing citations.
A $125 ticket is something that my family did not need especially at this time of the year.
I hope you take my complaint and suggestions in the spirit in which it is given. The Police Department in Port does a great job and I voted to keep it instead of depending on the Nassau Police, but please be discretionary in the way in which you deploy your men.
I hope that on this Christmas Day, people of all faiths will be thinking about and praying for John Chalker a Port Washington resident and police officer who is now on active duty in Iraq. A 50-year-old father of a 7-year-old boy, John is fighting in his third war, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and now Iraq.
I first met John on the evening of Aug. 10, 2001, when he responded to a medical emergency in our home. His sensitive and caring ways became immediately evident as he defused a highly stressful moment. Throughout the years, I came to know John more and more. A devout Catholic, his faith fosters a powerful humanitarian concern and tolerance for all people. He would always ask me, "How are your wife and daughter?" And always add, "They are the most important thing." Knowing I was Jewish, he would kid around using more Yiddish expressions that most Jews ever heard of. He always has a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face.
A few months ago I had a chance encounter with John as we both were leaving King Kullen. He was dressed in his camouflage army uniform and desert boots; I was in shorts and topsiders. John apologized for not having time to talk. He was all business. Clearly a man on the move, John was being deployed to Iraq. After a few words, we parted. Rather than the usual handshake, we both instinctively raised our hands and saluted each other. I saluted John because of enormous respect and admiration for him and for what he was doing for all of us. I have no idea why he saluted me. But clearly it speaks volumes of the kind of human being John Chalker is.
On this Christmas Day, may Gold bless John Chalker and may we all have him in our thoughts and prayers.