While leading his department into a high-tech future, Police Superintendent Christopher J. Carlin also is mounting an effort to take his officers back to the past.
Having spent much of his first year in office trying to provide officers with state-of-the-art crime-fighting technology such as computers in patrol cars, Carlin said he is attempting to help write and publish a book on the history of the Niagara Falls Police Department.
Carlin, who wrote "Protecting Niagara: A History of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office" in 1995, said he has teamed up this time with Lt. David Augustyniak, commander of the department's Youth Aid and Community Services Unit, and Paul Gromosiak, a retired city teacher and local historian.
He also hopes to recruit a Niagara University professor to assist.
Carlin said he wants to provide an accurate portrayal of the department over the years, from its beginnings in the 1800s.
"It's been said that the best way to understand where you're going is by understanding where you come from," Carlin said, noting that the history can give the department and the city a better sense of itself.
"We want to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly," said Augustyniak, whom Carlin has placed in charge of the project. "It won't always be pretty. But it will tell what happened. It's part of our past. If our younger people know about it, maybe it will instill some pride in them. It should teach lessons and promote unity."
"It can help link us to the community we serve," he added.
Augustyniak said the group is working with the Donning Co., a Beach, Va., publisher, to find a corporate sponsor to help with funding.
He said he envisions a coffee table-style, hardcover book that will tell the story of city police operations.
Carlin said he expects the book to contain a "good overview," generously sprinkled with "specific anecdotes" to provide a sense of how the department operated and changed with time, and what being a police officer was like at different points of history.
Major crimes, including murders, and the numerous police administrations are to be played up against the backdrop the city's history -- including its social, political and economic conditions, Carlin said.
Augustyniak said he is starting research with a book published in 1908 on the department's history up to that time.
"We're looking for (more recent) historical information, including photographs, documents and artifacts, which can include anything from news clippings an publications to old-fashioned night sticks (billy clubs) and collar brass," Augustyniak said. "We are looking for people to help us and bring that type of information in so we can assess it."
Augustyniak said those who believe they have anything that could contribute to the history should call the police Community Service Office at 286-4569.