A Historical Review of the C.L.S.A. and their First Installation Dinner Dance.

In 1916, the sworn members of the Yonkers Police Department organized the Yonkers Police Association. (YPA) This organization became the official voice of representation for all of its members in all of the associations dealings between management and rank and file. The Yonkers Police Associations membership at that time consisted of police officers, captains, lieutenants, and sergeants. The Y.P.A. became the recognized legal bargaining agent between the city and the Y.P.A. members regarding grievances and negotiations for members salaries and benefits. With supervisory ranks being members of the same organization, it is easy to see that conflict was inevitable when it came to discipline and who the association should support.

In 1925, Captain Dennis A. Cooper, commander of the Traffic Division, recognized the problem and recommended that the supervisory ranks, the Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants, form their own organization to look out specifically for the interests of the police ranking officers. Organizational meetings were held, and following an election, Captain Dennis Cooper was elected the first president of the “Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants Association” in the year 1925.

It was 1927 before a decision was made by the C.L.S.A. members that they would plan and hold a dinner dance. The year before, in 1926, a published book which attacked the “founder of our country,” President George Washington, both personally and professionally, caused an outcry throughout Yonkers. In an apparent symbolic gesture of support of President Washington’s memory, the associations committee decided to hold their dinner on the former president’s birthday. A tradition which is maintained, as close as possible, to this day. The first dinner dance was named “The First Annual Banquet and Reception of the Yonkers Police Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants Association.” The event was held on February 22, 1927 in the main dance hall of the Elks Club located on South Broadway.

Approximately 450 people attended the gala event, a great many of whom were local citizens. The well known Professor Albert Walsh’s orchestra played throughout the evening to the deight of the large group. The decorations displayed in the Elks Club main dining hall were said to be “the most striking to be seen at a public function in some time.” The entire ceiling of the dining hall was decorated with strings and bunches of balloons. Behind the dais hung a valuable tapestry loaned by Urban Studios. The two large tapestry panels depicting various phases of police work were displayed at each side of the speakers table. Large plaques with images of George Washington and Calvin Coolidge occupied places of honor. At each table place setting was a printed program with a picture of George Washington on the cover.

Captain Cooper, who did not run for re-election that year, and was succeeded by Lt. John C. Scheibel, was the “toastmaster” and made the opening remarks. Cooper discussed the various phases of a police officer’s job and praised the men in the police department for their fine work. He paid a special tribute to Police Officer Alexander Reid for the courage and dedication to duty he had shown following an accident he had on his police motorcycle while on patrol. Officer Reid had sustained an injury that had required the amputation of his foot. However, the officer declined retirement and, upon his request, received approval to remain working in the Department in some other capacity.

Mayor William A. Walsh congratulated the Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants on the founding of the C.L.S.A. and said, “The greatest good can be accomplished by such an organization. No one individual can get the results that a group can.” He went on to say, “It is much better if the policemen have their organization, and the Officers’ have their own separate organization. There are many questions pertaining to the superior officers that do not extend to the men in the ranks. Further, there is always a danger of a clash of interests. In regard to our policemen, there are none better than those found in the City of Yonkers.”

The first annual dinner dance of the C.L.S.A. proved to be a resounding success. Hundreds of policemen and ranking officers, many with their wives, attended along with nearly every prominent person in law enforcement, public service, and private industry.

As the years passed, very little changed regarding the two police associations. The Police Association (now the P.B.A.), and the C.L.S.A. each continued to hold independent annual dinner dances. Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants were allowed to remain members of the P.B.A. but were not allowed to hold office. Also, contract negotiations for the superior officers were still conducted by the P.B.A.

In March of 1974, after two years of legal efforts, the membership of the C.L.S.A. voted to become totally independent from the P.B.A. After application was made to the NYS Public Employee Relations Board (PERB), we were authorized to represent ourselves in all labor negotiations with the City of Yonkers.

Today, although close relations are maintained with the PBA, the Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants Association is a separate entity which serves as the official voice of labor for the supervisory ranks of the Yonkers Police Department.

– George E. Rutledge (Deputy Chief – Ret.)