All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

Kathlyn See
North Castle’s “Police Mom” Retires After 34 Years
By Michelle Boyle

January 31, 2016
Kathlyn See, who started work at the North Castle Police Department as a part-time records clerk in 1981 when Al Stipo was Police Chief, retired on Friday January 29, 2016. She handled all the police records, including payroll and attendance, and took care of workmen’s compensation. For the last 18 years, she worked full-time as the secretary to the Police Chief.

We sat together in her office, surrounded by bouquets of flowers, to have the following conversation, edited with explanatory information.

“I was fortunate when I moved into this office as the Police Chief’s secretary, because Bobby D’Angelo was Chief.” (She worked for five chiefs, some of them acting chiefs, during  those 34 years: Al Stipo, Robert D’Angelo, William Fisher, Geoffrey Harish and now Peter Simonsen.)

"They were all wonderful. They are all entirely different men. Al Stipo was smart as a whip. Donna, his daughter, also served as a sergeant in the department. She was just wonderful.” The Chief’s cousin, John Stipo, also worked in the department as an officer.
“When Buffy [Fisher] was the new Acting Chief, it was his birthday. I baked a Pina Colada cake for him. Linda, his wife came in, and said on the QT, ‘the kids are coming down.’ His two twin grandkids were maybe three or four years old. They came out of the car tiptoeing. I go, “shh,” because we were surprising grandpa, and they ran into grandpa’s office. It was heartwarming to watch Buffy with these little kids. The guys all came in off the road for cake and coffee. Buffy was special.”

In her 35th year on the force, See is retiring as the “Mother” of North Castle’s police officers. Recently she received a birthday card from everyone that said, “Happy Birthday Mommy, from all your favorite sweeties.”

It seems like it’s one big family, and the newly hired officers get that feeling. “Word passes quickly from department to department. They know the guys here are treated pretty well.”  

She treats them like her kids. “I holler at them if they don’t put on a hat. If they have a short sleeve shirt on from training upstairs for three hours, and then they have to go out on a call, I have to tell them to put on a long sleeve shirt. When they go out on an accident investigation, they could be standing in freezing cold weather for hours. Bicycle patrols; they better make sure they have their sunscreen on."

“The best part about this job is that it was always interesting.” See worked from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and more recently from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., while “the Police Chief works around the clock, seven days a week.”

The first thing she does every morning is to read the police blotter to see what happened the night before. “I have to know if someone gets hurt on a call, which happens a lot.” She reviews the accident reports to see if there were any house fires or burglaries. Acting as the Police Chief’s eyes and ears, she makes sure the Chief is aware of any incidents if he hasn’t read the blotter.

She also has to determine who handles the calls that come in. “If I get a call about a bomb threat, I drop everything and run. If the guys are running, I’ll say, what was that call?”

See always stood by the officers as soon as they returned from a call, providing support and a shoulder to lean on. “It’s traumatic. I’ll miss this as these guys are my friends. I’ll never forget their numbers.” All the officers have badge numbers. The first few officer’s badge numbers she didn’t know because they worked before her time, but she knows all the officers whose numbers are from seven to 98, the badge number they are up to today. “When writing the reports, we use the numbers, otherwise we go by first name.”

She talked about the miracle of when a little boy was run over in his own driveway in January 2012. The family’s thank you note and a photo of the boy, “who is doing beautifully”, are framed. The cards says, “The entire family is so grateful for all you have done over the past few weeks. First and foremost was the first response and expert care you provided on the scene which helped save the [little boy’s] life. You went above the call of duty and beyond that afterwards as you continued to visit and express your support and concern in the weeks that followed. The gift from the PBA was so thoughtful and kind, and the grand tour of the station and the patrol car that you gave him was the icing on the cake. We all remember you as heroes.” Fortunately for the North Castle community, the majority of the police officers are EMTs.

Her phone never stops ringing. As we sit there, she answers, “Chief Simonsen’s Office.” It’s obvious that she’s capable of juggling many things at once as she tells the caller, “come to the station and the officer at the desk will gladly assist you.”

“The first day of a vacation in August 2012  there was a horrific accident involving a backup call.” An officer’s car was crushed on Main Street by a U. S. postal delivery truck. The officer was seriously injured while he was responding to a domestic dispute.

“The guys always come first. I drop whatever I’m doing to help them because if they come into my office they have a purpose in mind. Depending on what they are looking for, they could be here for three minutes or 30 minutes. They might get a call, so I have to take care of them first.”

Familiar with most everything in the office, she retires with many stories, but holds many of them in confidence just as an officer protects the details of her case. “I was secretary to the Police of Chief, and Senior Office Assistant. Buffy Fisher used to call me the Office Manager, but there’s no such civil service title as that.”
“They are a bunch of great guys. Tommy Ward was absolutely the best. He was a sergeant when I came here. The patience that man had; he was determined! There was a protest at IBM in the 1980s. He knew how to handle the people; he had diplomacy. His best was DWIs. He would make the arrest and then would pay, out of his own wallet, to get a cab to take them home.”

The department recently hired a young police officer from Eastchester. “I lived in Scardale, where I went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School. When we got married, we moved to Eastchester. The new officer and I lived on the same block, we both know Eastchester like the back of our hand!”

“Then I lived in Armonk for 36 years.” Her husband’s family settled in Armonk in the 1700s. “At one time there was over 135 Sees living here. They could sway a vote. The politicians loved them. There were four Fred Sees; two Srs. and two Jrs. Her father-in-law was Fred See, Jr. and her husband was Fred See, Jr. The mail used to get mixed up all the time.”

See now lives near one of her seven grandchildren, in Fishkill, and plans to travel and spend more time with her other grandchildren in California and Texas. For the past eighteen years her family has been vacationing together at one of her favorite spots in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  

She started working at the Police Department when her three sons were in grade school. She is proud of her middle son, Tommy, who has raised through the ranks as a North Castle police sergeant.  

The police officers are the caretakers of this town as they are always on the watch. “There was a snowstorm and a mother called who had a sick baby. The mother asked, ‘Can you please help me out?’ The doctor called in a prescription and she did not have four wheel drive. We have chains on our cars, so a patrolman picked up the prescription and brought it to her house. This is what our guys do. They are here to help you. You will rarely see an officer’s back turned to the center of the room, rather he will always have his back to the wall where he can see everything that’s going on.”

“I am anxious. I’m going to miss this place. I don’t know who is moving into this office, but I would have liked to give whoever it is a couple of tips because there’s a lot of information here.”

“I’ve gone to bat for these guys many times. There’s an intuition when you know something is right or when something is wrong. That’s an instinct you have to act on. Most of the times I’ve dealt with people who have problems, because if they are dealing with the police they are not calling to say ‘Hi, how are you?’ I listened and read in between the lines. I have done that on a few occasions and always appreciated the call back saying, ‘thank you for doing what you did for me.’”

On behalf of all North Castle’s citizens, we thank Kathie See for the 34-years she dedicated to North Castle’s Police Department.