Frank Rizzo | Democrat
Lt. Deming Lindsley spent 14,837 days protecting the wildlife, streams and lands of New York as a NYS Conservation officer. When he retired earlier this month, he was THE most senior person in the Law Enforcement Division of any rank.
Lt. Deming Lindsley retires after 40 years
Story by Fred Stabbert III
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS August 23, 2013 One of the most respected and experienced Conservation Officers in the State of New York Lt. Deming Lindsley officially retired earlier this month.
Actually, if the truth be told, Lt. Lindsley is THE MOST SENIOR DEC Law Enforcement Officer in the State of New York with more than 40 years on the job.
In 1976 he made Zone Lieutenant. “And I’m still in the field with the people doing the job and enjoying every day of the job.
“The last eight years I have been the most senior guy of all the ranks,” he said. “They even changed my radio handle to read ‘Old Coot’ when I sign on.
“I am the last Tier 1 guy to retire,” he said.
Besides his deep knowledge of EnCon Law, his strong ability to deal with the public and his desire to educate people on what he does, Lt. Lindsley also has a great sense of humor.
“I look forward to getting back to learn how to hunt,” Deming said. “They (my fellow club members) said they would teach me. I’m going to remember all the rules...no lights!”
The Lindsley family hunting club Buckhorn Hunting Club is located on Ferguson Hollow Rd. in Willowemoc.
“It’s been in the family since 1944,” he said. “It is 68 acres surrounded by state land.
“My cousins come down and we get a chance to visit, it sleeps 15 guys,” he said.
Lindsley said he will also get a chance to see if all those hunting stories are true.
“I never had a chance to hunt with them,” he said. “I would stop in after work and everyone would be sitting on the couch telling stories.
“I would come back the next day and they would still be on the couch. I’m not sure they ever went in the woods.”
Now he will know, for sure.
His DEC Life
To say Deming grew up in the DEC would be a little bit of an understatement.
“My dad, Burton, was a DEC officer from 1952 until 1980,” Deming said. “He always worked Sullivan County. For me it was a way of life.”
At one time, the Lindsley families of White Sulphur Springs had four of their own in the department.
Burton and his son, Deming, worked law enforcement and Graydon (Burton’s brother) and his son, Carl, worked in wildlife.
“I knew it as a kid growing up,” he said. “It wasn’t a big change in my life, it’s what I was used to.
“When you go out, everyone knew who you were,” he said of having his father serve before him.
“I hear about the tickets dad didn’t write,” he said. “I took in a lot from mom and dad, especially how to deal with people.
“I believe in the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law,” he said. “I always tell my classes, ‘56 in a 55 is speeding, but you don’t get a ticket.’
“A ticket isn’t always the answer. The answer is education,” he said.
And educate he did.
“I never saw him lose patience with a person or cut them short,” Tom Willi, a family friend and avid hunter, said. “He would always take the time to explain everything he could to anyone who asked.”
Deming said, “I always enjoyed teaching. I taught every single person who is now in the division. Out of 19 academy classes, I taught 17 of them the Fish and Wildlife Law.
“If you want to learn the law, teach it. I also taught at SUNY Cobleskill for 20 years and I really enjoyed it, because college kids would ask anything. It would make me do my research.”
The Lindsley File
Lt. Deming Lindsley went into the U.S. Navy after earning a degree from Orange County Community College.
After his Navy service, Deming went back to college for a semester before a job opened up with the DEC in December of 1972.
After four years in Orange County Deming “Got lucky on a Promotional Exam” and earned the rank of Lieutenant.
He worked for 20 years in Delaware County, working out of the Regional Office in Stamford. Region 4 included Delaware and Greene counties. He also served for a time in Ulster and Dutchess counties while living in Phoenicia.
His latest assignment was his “hometown,” Sullivan County.
“I had Sullivan County and most of Ulster, including Bellayre and Woodstock,” he said “I had seven guys working for me when I was fully staffed.”
Today, he and wife Nancy live in White Sulphur Springs and look forward to trips to visit the “kids.” He has three children, AmyJo, Veronica and Boyd.
You can’t make this stuff up
Throughout his 40-plus years of service to the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Lt. Deming Lindsley has basically “seen it all.”
These are two of his favorite stories, one while on duty and the other while off duty.
In 1990, Newscenter 6 out of Albany, a local television station, wanted to do a story about “Deerjacking,” illegally taking deer at night.
Deming agreed to have the film crew join him one night on his appointed rounds, knowing the interview would probably just wind up with quotes and video of him.
“I’m driving down this back road with the news crew the photographer in the front seat and reporter in the back,” Deming said. “My dome light is on, my high beams are on and all of a sudden I see a car in front of me with a light shining into the woods.”
Deming said the next thing he knew a shot was fired which was caught on camera and the local television crew had a live arrest of two deerjackers for its story.
The guilty party was fined $2000 and Deming received a copy of the tape which he has shown to every Law Enforcement class he has taught.
“Guys told me they drove around for weeks with their lights off, trying to catch someone and here I go down the road with a film crew, bright lights on and catch a bad guy,” he said.
“Something like that just normally doesn’t happen,” he said. “It was certainly one of the highlights of my career.”
* * * * *
Another famous incident happened while Deming stopped by the White Sulphur Springs Inn after work.
A pretty “renowned” hunter was enjoying a glass of beer when Deming came in, dressed in his street clothes.
They started a little conversation when White Sulphur Springs owner Tom Willi walked in.
“Tom came over and slapped me on the back, ‘Hello Deming,’” he said.
Deming joked back, “Let’s go hunting again tonight, this time you hold the light and I’ll shoot.”
With that, the local patron started talking about his hunting prowess, which included shooting deer out of his barn windows and some other less than lawful activities.
After about 15 or 20 minutes Deming had heard enough.
“I stood up to leave and said to him, ‘We have not been formally introduced, I’m Lt. Deming Lindsley with the New York State DEC.’”
The man’s face quickly turned white as Deming strode out the door.
A sign commemorating the night now hangs in the Inn.