While tradition says it's the son who follows in his father's footsteps, State Trooper Rebecca Gregson doesn't give a hoot about that.
The 5-foot-3-inch blonde packs heat like her father, Senior State Police Investigator Thomas Gregson, and has been doing on-the-job training here for the past four months within sight -- and sometimes under the unsolicited tutelage -- of dear old dad.
"I get assignments and he tells me what I did wrong," quipped Investigator Gregson's 25-year-old daughter.
Gregson, however, had no impact on his daughter's decision to spend six months over the past year withstanding the rigors of the State Police Academy in Albany and the subsequent field training here to become a trooper.
Asked if her father ever tried to influence her, Trooper Gregson said, "No, not at all. He never said, 'You should do this.' "
She said her decision came quite suddenly after she graduated with a degree in communications from the State University of New York College at Oswego. She also is a graduate of Starpoint High School.
"I never thought about it (being a trooper) until after I got out of school. It just sounded interesting and I had a lot of knowledge about it from having a family member (her father) on the job. It seemed like a challenge," Trooper Gregson said.
A man with 32 years experience as a police officer, Senior Investigator Gregson said, "I never directed them (his three children to a specific career). I'd hate to suggest a job and something unfortunate happens. I always let them make their own decisions." His 20-year-old son, Scott, is a college student and his 29-year-old daughter, Beth, is a teacher.
And while he stays out of things, Gregson knows the job of a trooper can be tough -- and dangerous at times. "She has a lot to look forward to," Gregson said with amusement possibly tinged with anxiety.
"My wife (Judy) has reservations, especially when she sees something bad in the newspapers," he said. "But once she (Rebecca) decided, we've been supportive . . . I had nothing to do with her decision."
He added that there are fringe benefits of having a daughter who is a trooper. "She's cleaned my gun twice," he said, and "Since I can't holler at her at home anymore, I can still holler at her here (at work)," Gregson joked.
Those pleasures, however, became short-lived this past week when the state police assigned his daughter to work in Newburgh, a city on the Hudson River north of New York City.
But even if a parent attempted to influence a child to choose law enforcement as a career, Trooper Gregson said, "You have to really want it. If you have any doubts, you won't make it through academy training. It's not fun."
"She used to come home (from academy training) black and blue. Her arms and legs were all black and blue," Investigator Gregson said, recalling the physical demands of the academy. Was he concerned? "No. I knew they wouldn't kill her," he said with a smirk.
"I got no sympathy," Trooper Gregson said. "I'd come home like that and he'd laugh."
The trooper said her academy class started out with 102 candidates. Four of the nine female candidates dropped out, along with 16 men, before graduation. She added that she was even able to run the 1 1/2 -mile requirement well within the time parameters used for male candidates and, with a look, implied she can outrun her dad.
Before starting at the academy, Trooper Gregson said she was apprehensive about whether she could meet the physical requirements for the job.
"I had to get in shape and lose some weight," she said. She did.
Her father assisted her a bit in that. "I helped when she was getting in shape. We rode bikes together. When she went to run at the track, I'd time her," he said.
After almost a year of training -- and ribbing from her male counterparts ("They are heartless," she laughed), Trooper Gregson says that despite the obvious downsides of the job, "I enjoy it. Every day is interesting."
She's even looking forward to the move to Newburgh, she said. "I'm excited about being on my own. I can't wait to take what I've learned and apply it."
She said she is not anxious about the situations she may face, but added she tries to be prudent, knows what precautions to take and when to radio for help.
Before the transfer, she patroled Niagara County's highways and byways alone in her cruiser for more than a month.
"There are times I'm afraid because I'm not sure what kind of a call I'm going to and what might happen when I get there," she said. "You have to plan for different situations and I feel I've been prepared for that. My training has taught me to make decisions and how to handle different (and sometimes dangerous) situations and the procedures to follow."
So far, she said she has had some interesting moments, but nothing where she felt threatened. "My first week (as a trooper being trained by Trooper Keith Lucas), we had a vehicle and traffic stop and ended up arresting a man who was wanted for statutory rape in Kansas," she said.
After another traffic stop, she and other troopers arrested a man for burglary when they found a cash register in his truck that had been stolen in a pizzeria break-in that same morning.
She also was assigned to keep order at the Woodstock Music Festival this summer.
"I was glad I went. It was my first experience dealing with large crowds. There were some tense moments. I was there wearing riot equipment and pushing people back (during the rioting). But it wasn't as bad as the newspapers made it look," she said. Mostly, she said she directed traffic at Woodstock, but did learn a lot about crowd control.