Jeanne Sager | Democrat
NEW CHIEF ROBERT Mir was second in command to Michael DeFrank.
Choosing Mir was a given for Liberty PD
By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY July 18, 2008 The village board didn’t have far to look when the chief of the Liberty police retired.
Chief Mike DeFrank stepped down on June 25.
Second in command, Lt. Rob Mir was named acting chief that day.
By July 9, he wasn’t just acting. As Mir enters his 20th year of law enforcement in Sullivan County, he’s doing it as chief of police.
“I’ve been working toward this my entire career,” Mir said with a grin.
He credits the village board for choosing DeFrank’s successor from the department not only for the benefits it’s provided him but the good it bestows on the department as a whole.
“It really stimulates a department when you do that,” Mir explained. “It’s good for morale. It gives all the guys a chance to move up.”
Mir has moved up the ranks since moving to Liberty in 1991 when he started as a patrolmen on the midnight shift.
Raised in Brooklyn, Mir always knew he wanted to be a cop.
“I wanted to help people who needed the help and wanted the help,” he said simply.
He took the New York Police Department test with three of his cousins, scoring near perfect.
But Mir is the only member of the family to follow through.
He’s the first Mir in law enforcement.
“They were all gung ho, but when push came to shove, none of them followed through,” he said, shaking his head.
The NYPD took his high score and assigned Mir to a job in housing.
But Mir didn’t want to be in housing. He wanted to be a beat cop, patrolling the street, out with the people.
So he declined the position and pulled up stakes. Having spent summers at his family’s property in the Catskills, Mir came north to Sullivan County.
He took the test to become a police officer in both Sullivan and Ulster counties and waited.
He worked as an assistant manager at Sullivan’s in Liberty, took a job as a landscaping foreman.
Within two years, he’d passed both tests and was offered a spot on the Fallsburg Police Force.
Mir spent two years in Fallsburg and took the criminal investigators course before moving to Liberty in 1991.
Along with the job, he made a decision to move his family to the village. With wife Ann, he bought a house in Liberty where the couple now lives with their three daughters.
“I love the sense of community here,” Mir noted. “It’s so different from New York City where I grew up.
“At one point, I lived in a six-family building (in NYC), and you never knew who was living next door,” he recalled. “Here, you stop in the diner and there’s always 30 people you know saying hi to you!”
It’s the same story at the police station where Mir cites the camaraderie as one of his chief reasons for staying with the department for a decade and a half.
Beyond that is the level of professionalism, Mir said.
“We’ve always expected more from our officers than the public does,” he said.
Hired by Chief Ed Eisley as a patrolman, Mir made sergeant within two years on the force.
In 1994, he became the second DARE officer in department history, educating kids in the Liberty Middle School as well as St. Peter’s Regional Catholic School and Light and Life Christian School on the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
He spent six years working with the program long enough that a DARE revamp required him to learn a new curriculum.
“I wound up teaching two different curriculums that’s what you get for being a dinosaur,” he said with a laugh.
The DARE years were among his favorite in policework a light comes on in the eyes of the father of three when he talks about working with children.
“The relationship you build with the kids and the trust it’s awesome,” he said. “I still see them on the street. They recognize me, they come up to me, introduce me to their kids.”
Mir firmly believes the DARE officer and the school resource officer make a difference in turning the tides of crime in the youth.
“Eventually as the dust settles here, I’d like to see us get more involved with the kids,” he said. “Make them see it’s less ‘us versus them.’”
Mir has also set his eyes on cleaning up Main Street a problem that he puts down to perception as much as real criminal activity.
A major part of his job as lieutenant DeFrank’s second-in-command was to bring in grant money for the department. Among those grants garnered in recent years was the $50,000 allocation for the cameras that will soon be set up on Main Street.
“If and when there’s a problem, we’ll be able to act on it,” he said. “Main Street will be monitored 24 hours a day from here in the police station.”
Mir is also looking into ways to diversify the department’s training.
“In a small department like this, everyone wears a lot of different hats,” he explained. “A senior guy might wear five different hats because of his seniority where one guy wears one hat because he just hasn’t been here that long. We’re going to change that.”
It won’t be easy, and Mir isn’t planning major changes or even quick ones.
The only bilingual officer on the whole force, Spanish-speaking Mir is called in at all hours to act as a translator. He’d like to see other officers learn Spanish but he knows that’s not going to happen overnight.
Mir is OK with that.
“I’ve got no worries about the department because I’ve got great people here,” he said. “Having been a PBA member until a week ago, we have a great relationship!
“I’m thrilled to be in this position, thrilled to be working in the department.”