One need only watch Riverside village board meetings on local TV or read the Landmark to know that the problem of traffic and speeding are constantly being reviewed by police.
It also reminded me how our local police force has changed over the years, each with its different times and problems — and interesting law enforcement characters.
I remember being told about Charlie Lange, who worked for the village from 1887 to 1927. There is a picture in the book “Images of America: Riverside” of Charlie on his bike, which was how he patrolled the village. The legend goes that Charlie was great for greeting the commuters at the train station, and for his work he received a big $60 a month. Charlie probably didn’t have a problem with speeders — at least those in cars — because there were none until much later in his career, a much easier time.
As the town grew and the need for speed enforcement grew, and Charlie’s bicycle was replaced by motorcycles, squad cars and a larger police force. Motorcycles are no longer used, although sometimes in the summer you can still see cops on bicycles.
For 30 years starting in 1951, the village was lucky to have on its police department Danny “The Silver Fox” Formato. A big, imposing man, he was called “The Silver Fox” because of his curly silver hair, which could be seen under his hat. He also was referred to as “Jeff” because of his resemblance to the Hollywood film star Jeff Chandler.
The Silver Fox was known for stationing himself in the squad car on Selborne Road near Longcommon, where the stop sign was (and still is) often avoided. He also used the same tactic on Audubon Road, waiting for the speeders on Longcommon.
Those areas began to be known as village speed traps and that was a good thing. He was tough and had a reputation of not giving anyone a pass, whether you were a resident or not. However, my mother was proud to say that he gave her a pass one time, and that was only because her daughter (me) and his son went to school together. As can be imagined, Danny Formato was loved by some and feared by many. I don’t know if there is a record of how many tickets he wrote, but I imagine quite a few.
So, slow down! No texting or using your cell phone. It’s not only illegal, but the life you save could be your own.