by Lisa Tome
After nearly 41 years leading the North East Police Department, kids can still surprise Chief Darrell Hamilton.
"I tease them every day. It's cold out and they don't have a coat on because they left it in their locker. I say 'where's your coat?' where's your sweater?'," said Hamilton.
Hamilton interacts with the children when he serves as the daily crossing guard at North East Middle School. He handles the afternoons and Lt. Jim Just takes the morning shift.
The pair admit the weather has been brutal lately and it's a cold detail.
Chief Hamilton talked about overseeing a police department during the recent winter weather - two weeks where temperatures weren't above freezing. ice, bitter cold, and snow. "We've had cold days but not this number of consecutive cold days. Crime is down because people aren't going outside," he said.
The chief said officer safety during the weather snap makes him worry. "It's mostly business as usual. If the roads aren't cleared, I've told the officers that there is no rational reason to leave the station. And I'm always preaching, wear your gloves," he said.
"I wear earmuffs, a hat, and gloves (doing the school detail) and I'm still cold. But it's a job you have to do whether it's 20 below or 80 degrees. Common sense is important right now. Everyone needs to walk gingerly," Hamilton said during Tuesday's ice storm.
Lt. Just said he has worked in cold, but, like the chief said, not this many consecutive days of cold. "I'm wearing thermals. Heavy duty thermals. At least you don't have to shovel the cold," he said.
"The job is still getting done. There's no hiccup," added the chief.