CHESTERTOWN - Retired police officer Jack Currie stood with a half-dozen other former state troopers gazing at a display of photographs depicting police work in olden days in the southern Adirondacks.
He and other former troopers joined about 15 active state police, local and state officials, and dozens of community members for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 20, for the new state police substation in Chestertown.
"In the old building, we had no interrogation rooms," he recalled, as citizens took a walking tour of the expansive, 19-room new building. "We had to take suspects out of the substation into our patrol cars to question them."
About 19 police will be working out of the new 7,100-square-feet building - 13 state police joined by a half-dozen Warren County sheriff's office personnel.
The new state police headquarters includes upcounty headquarters for the Warren County sheriff's office.
State Police Troop G Commander Major William Sprague said his agency didn't need all the room in this building, which was built to state's ample specifications, so his agency decided to host the county sheriff's substation - perhaps a first for the state police.
"This provides a model for cooperation elsewhere in the state," he said."It will work for the benefit of both agencies."
County Sheriff Bud York agreed, noting the rent-free arrangement will save local taxpayers as much as $12,000 per year, while boosting communication between state police officers and investigators, helping them jointly solve crimes as the officers share background information on suspects and compare notes on cases.
"This will make it a lot easier to solve crimes," he said. "This is definitely a win-win situation for all."
While the sheriff's deputies work out of the south wing of the well-equipped building, the state police will in turn have access to the sheriff's real-time fingerprint reading and identification apparatus which can provide suspects' identities and past arrest records nearly instantaneously.
State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, remarked the new substation meant a great deal to northern Warren and southern Essex counties.
"This new station demonstrates a commitment to coverage, cooperation and camaraderie," she said. "Crime per capita in rural New York State is very high, and police presence in our Adirondack communities is very important."
State Sen. Elizabeth O'C Little, R-Queensbury, praised the idea of shared services, an idea she has championed for years to streamline government.
"I can't tell you how pleased I am about this inter-agency cooperation ... considering the 'Us and Them' in our lives just has to disappear," said Little.
She explained police agencies first requested this new substation 31 years ago.
"As you know, things in government take time," she said.
Srgt. Ken Kipper Jr. of Albany, as well as many troopers to be stationed locally, noted how the substation would be particularly useful, with its spacious facilities, during a large-scale incident.
The building is owned by Elizabeth and Christopher Walsh of Long Island, who own a second home in Chester.
Christopher Walsh, who is an electrician in New York City, said he was pleased to host the law officers in the building he and his wife had built. He declined to reveal the price of the building, which is under a long-term lease to the state.
While more than a dozen troopers and as many retired officers reviewed the station's amenities, including a dispatch room, interrogation rooms, spacious storage areas, meeting rooms, kitchen, and a spacious locker room, others admired the lobby that includes a multi-tiered vaulted ceiling in the entranceway, stone pillars and brick facade.
Looking at the computer and GPS equipment, the retired troopers recalled how advanced the new facilities were in comparison to the small substation nearby that was in use since 1956 until just a few weeks ago.
Several decades ago, the old substation had no dial phones on site - to make a phone call, police had to signal the local phone operator by clicking the receiver button and have her place calls for them.
Depicting this era was a display of photographs and news articles created by retired trooper John Lustyik of Lake George. He served in the Chester substation from 1969 to 1975, and was station commander at the time.
In addition to Lustyik, retired state troopers attending the station dedication ceremony included Mike Kellaher, "Cos" Cocca, Jim Neumann, Jack Currie, Charles Redmond, "Cash" Phillips, Pete Bentley, and Lee Steele, among others.
Sprague praised the former troopers for showing up for the ceremony.
"We have several generations of state police here," he said. "This is a great testament to how our former officers are still concerned about the welfare of the communities they served."