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Taking a ride with a TCO

GRAHAM MOORE PHOTO
Traffic Control Officer Taylor Rando, on the job on Grand Avenue.

Jared Hamilton, Taylor Rando and Robert Hitscherich are this summer’s Shelter Island Police Department’s Traffic Control Officers (TCOs).

With a police radio crackling in a police cruiser and a brutally hot day forcing TCO Hamilton to keep the air-conditioning on full bore, he started a patrol one Sunday recently along with TCO Rando. The cruiser’s dashboard was covered with mileage records, papers, and ticket pads. The daily work of the TCO includes patrolling the Island’s busier roads, such as Route 114, and the four most popular beaches: Crescent, Shell, Wades and Menhaden.

The first stop was dropping off TCO Rando outside the Marie Eiffel Market on Bridge Street.
TCO Rando, whose uncle Anthony is a Shelter Island Police officer, has an interest in being a police officer, she said, but, “I recently received my bachelor’s degree in fashion design, so I’m exploring all my options.”

She added that she became a TCO to “try something new and to explore the field of law enforcement.”
TCO Hitscherich hopped in from his patrol up the hill near Isola, grateful for a chance to get out of the pounding sun and merciless heat.

He’s from Rockville Centre in Nassau County, but his family has a long history on the Island. “My family’s been out here since 1959, all of my aunts and uncles had summer jobs when they were children. My mother worked at Kraus,’ which was what Sunset Beach was before it was Sunset,” he said. “But I come out here during the off-season when I’m home from school. I’ve been coming out here my entire life.”

Entering his senior year at Villanova this fall, TCO Hitscherich hopes to go on to law school. “I took the TCO job because I love Shelter Island and wanted to give back to the community,” he said.

As the cruiser headed towards Crescent Beach, the air-conditioning stopped working. “Write about that in the Reporter,” TCO Hamilton said, and jokingly suggested a headline.
TCO Hitsherich got out near Sunset Beach and his partner drove on.

His father a full-time resident, TCO Hamilton has been coming for summers and weekends most of his life. In 2019, he graduated cum laude from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., majoring in criminology with a minor in psychology.

Filling out his daily activity report, he explained his plans to make a career out of law enforcement. He decided he wanted to put his summer to good use and so interviewed with Police Chief Jim Read and landed the job as a TCO. He recently completed the test given to aspiring Suffolk County Police Department officers.

While initially, he was considering joining the Coast Guard or the Marines, he was ultimately inspired to be a police officer by his grandfather, who was a sergeant in the county police department.

“I like the idea of not sitting in an office all day,” he said. “Being a cop also would keep me on my toes, anything could happen at any moment, and I like the excitement of that.”

His current position at times conflicts with his other reasons for joining the force.

“I don’t like giving people tickets,” he said. “I want to be a cop to help people and make them feel good, not ruin their day.”

But he takes his job with the Island police force seriously.

“You always have to be aware of how you’re acting,” he said. “My behavior is a reflection not only of me, but the whole department. If I’m not waving to enough people and being responsive to the whole community, Chief Read’s going to pull me into his office.”

TCO Hamilton prides himself on attention to detail. An example occurred when driving down Shell Beach. Without turning his head, he spotted a car traveling past lacking a beach permit on either its front or back bumpers.

“You learn to use your side view mirrors effectively in this job,” he said.

The most unfortunate incident Hamilton has experienced happened with a Frenchman. “After I gave him a ticket I got chewed out in French for the next five minutes,” he said with a smile. “I took French in high school, so I got the gist of what he was trying to say.”

TCO Hitscherich had a similar run-in with an angry motorist, when he was “on the receiving end of a long tirade of profanity culminating in me being called a punk,” he said. “Other than that, people have been nicer and more understanding after getting a ticket.”

Driving back to police headquarters in the Center, TCO Hamilton spoke again about his future plans, hoping to make his duties on Shelter Island more permanent.

“I’m hoping I’ll come back next year as a full-time cop,” he said.

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