Saturday, June 25, 2016

Community Policing 101: Brighton, NY Police officer Mark Skidmore; A Throwback to The Beat Cop


Brighton, NY Police officer Mike Skidmore 

By Davy V.

As my blog closes in on the 2 million views mark, what better way to cross that milestone than with a good story, about a good cop.

Before Davy V., there was David Vara.

A shy, quiet kid, uprooted from his sunny adopted hometown of Miami, Florida, and transplanted back to his cold and dark hometown of Rochester, NY.

When I was 9 years old, Officer Friendly visited my 3rd grade class at Jonathan Child #21 School.

He talked to us about the importance of stranger danger, and about how police officers were "the good guys."

Later, that same day at home, as I showed my dad the coloring booklet officer Friendly had given my class, my dad reinforced officer Friendly's talk by telling me that the police were indeed "the good guys."

My dad also told me that if I ever found myself lost or in need of help, to seek the dark blue uniforms and the shiny badges.

That all changed in June of 1986 when Rochester, NY Police officers Randall "Rambo" Benjamin, and Mark Mariano kicked in our front door, illegally broke into our home without a warrant, terrorized me and my family at gunpoint, threatened to shoot my dog, ransacked through our belongings, overturned mattresses, dumped out dresser drawers, and broke  my softball trophy.

That day changed my dad 's life orever.

As a Cuban immigrant who had fled a police state where Castro's Gestapo-like G-2 cops kicking in your door was an all too common occurrence, my dad never trusted the police again after that day.

Neither did I.

That one incident led to my dad becoming active and very outspoken against police misconduct.

Which in turn led to the Rochester, NY Police Department targeting my dad the 'Good Ol' Boys Club' way.

Members of the Rochester, NY Police Department harassed and intimidated my dad on an almost daily basis.

If they saw him walking to the corner store, they would stop him for no reason.

If they saw him driving, they would pull him over just to fuck with him.

Eventually the selective targeting and intimidation on the part of the Rochester Police Department took its toll on my dad.

Simply put, they made my dad's life miserable.

My dad fell into a very bad, deep depression and he stopped being the outgoing, passionate man he once was.

It got to the point where my dad barely left his room.

On July 9, 1993 while my mom was in the kitchen  making dinner, and I was in the living room watching television, my dad committed suicide.

At my dad's wake, the first 5 people to come pay their respects were all Rochester, NY cops.

Good cops.

Cops who knew that what Rochester Police officers Randall "Rambo" Benjamin and Mark Mariano did to our family was wrong.

Among those officers was Ron Fontaine, who I'm proud to say was my dad's friend.

As a kid I would often sit on my porch on Child Street,  taking small breaks in between riding my BMX bike, to eat Now & Laters and drink 25 cent huggie juices.

Rochester, NY Police officer Ron Fontaine would drive by and wave.

Every now and then he'd stop his cruiser in front of our house and say hi to my dad and me.

He'd always call me "Kid."


Me with Retired Rochester, NY Police officer Ron Fontaine.


From right to left: Me, my Dad, and Judge Provenzano when my Dad became a U.S. Citizen 

At my dad's wake, Officer Fontaine cried, as he stood next to my dad's casket, and looked down at his friend Mario.

Officer Fontaine then turned to me, my brother and my mom and hugged us.

"Mario was a good man," he said.

Brighton, NY Police officer Mark Skidmore reminds me a lot of Rochester Police officer Ron Fontaine.

Officer Skidmore will often stop and pull over when he sees me with my daughter.

He'll go out of his way to give her a high five and say hi to us.

And he'll often give my daughter coupons for free ice cream, and slurpees for her and her brothers.

Despite my public image and the fact that I'm hated and despised by many in law enforcement, most of whom don't know much about me, except what they hear, or read about me, Brighton, NY Police officer Mark Skidmore has NEVER treated me any differently.

He's slways respected me.


But most importantly, he's always respected my children.

Officer Skidmore recently told me he's big on community policing.

Well, it shows.

We need more cops on the streets willing to stop and say hi to citizens.

We need more cops on the streets who truly care about the communities they patrol.

And we need more cops on the streets who want to build a relationship with the citizens in those communities.

Cops who will go out of their way to high-five a young child.

Cops who will stop their cruiser just to say hi to a kid sitting on his porch.

Not drive by that young kid and stare him down.

We need more cops like Ron Fontaine.

And Mark Skidmore. 

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