By Rob Potter
LIBERTY August 10, 2001 For two weeks, Mike De Frank has been acclimating himself to the chiefs desk and chair at the Village of Liberty Police Department.
Since former Liberty Police Chief Michael Ward retired on July 27 after nine years at the helm, De Frank has been the Acting Chief of the department.
He will shorten his title to simply Chief by passing the police chief civil service exam next March.
In the meantime, De Frank is using his skills and talents to guide the department and make the transition period a relatively smooth one.
I feel I should do whatever I can to the best of my ability to meet the responsibilities of this office, he said. Im not embarrassed to ask for advice from members of any other police agency in the county.
De Frank noted that he has already received some advice from District Attorney Stephen Lungen, local judges and attorneys and other police chiefs.
There hasnt been any lack of help, he said. And I thank them for that.
De Frank supervises 17 full-time officers, three full-time dispatchers, three part-time officers and one part-time dispatcher. And those 24 department members have been very helpful and supportive.
I wouldnt have taken the job if I felt they didnt want me to, De Frank explained.
After graduating from Liberty Central School in 1983, De Frank joined the United States Navy. For the next four years, he served as a gunners mate, and his duties included shore patrol and ship security.
With the skills he gained in the Navy, De Frank had opportunities to join agencies like the City of Norfolk (Virginia) Police and Virginia State Police at the end of that four-year commitment. But he headed back to Sullivan County instead.
I never really looked to go anywhere else, he said. My family still lives here, and this is where I grew up.
Soon after returning home in 1987, he joined the Liberty Police Department.
I had an opportunity, and I took it, De Frank said. And Im glad I did. The Liberty Police Department is a professional agency, and it is well respected by other area agencies.
De Frank was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1993 and became a Lieutenant two years later. Now De Frank, 36, is the acting chief of his hometown police department.
When asked about his goals for the Liberty Police Department, De Frank grabbed a piece of paper that was sitting atop his desk.
This is my goal for the department, he said, holding a copy of the Liberty Police Departments Mission Statement.
That Mission Statement reads as follows:
The principal mission of the Police Department is to preserve the rights of citizens and reduce fear in the community through the prevention of crime, protection of persons, property, and the maintenance of order in public places; and to anticipate and respond to events that threaten public order and the protection of life and property.
It is essential all members remember that in the execution of their duties they act not for themselves but for the good of the public. They shall respect and protect the rights of individuals and perform their services with honesty, zeal, courage, discretion, fidelity and sound judgment.
Police officers must seek and preserve public confidence by demonstrating impartial service to law, and by offering service and trust to all members of the public.