Patrolman Paul Stone, or PJ, has been a Menands police officer since December, 2014. He was hired by Sheriff Craig Apple in July of 2011. In 2015 he received a Life Saving award from the Watervliet Elks for his heroic actions pulling a young male from a fully involved vehicle fire. In 2016 he was awarded the Guy J. Barringer Community Service Award by the Albany County Sheriff’s Department’s Stop DWI Program. He also received the MADD New York State Stop DWI award in 2016 and 2018. He is a certified School Resource Officer and certified car seat technician. He recently organized the second annual Menands Community Night to highlight the Village of Menands Police and Fire departments at Ganser Smith Park. The event, which was combined with the annual village picnic that was postponed due to weather, was a huge success. The Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Colonie Police Department and New York State Police were also in attendance at the event. He and his wife Brittany live in Halfmoon and have a 6-year-old daughter named Josie.
Q: How important is it, especially now-a-days, for the community to know the police in a setting like the event you just organized?
A: It is extremely instrumental for our community to know the police officers and fire fighters that will be responding on potentially the worst day of their life. Most people do not get to interact with the police on good days, unless they happen to see us in between enforcing laws or handling stressful situations. I feel lucky to be in Menands because it is a smaller Police Department. We have the ability to make connections with the residents we serve on a regular basis. An event like the Menands Community Night allows us to interact with people from the community. They have the opportunity to get to know us on a personal level, which could potentially ease the stress when they see a familiar face show up when they need help.
Q: Policing has come under fire over the past couple years. What do you do on a daily basis to counter the negative perceptions that are out there?
A: Every day I put on my uniform and badge and try to continue to make a positive impact on the people I have the opportunity to interact with. I believe it starts with respect. I was taught to always show respect to others, and I expect the same in return. There is a way to talk to people that not only reflects positively on the department but you as an individual. I try to teach this to my daughter every day. “Be kind and make good choices” is a phrase I hear daily from one of the residents who says this to her child at drop off at the school. I feel that being kind and making good choices/respectful is the best way to approach situations and set yourself up for the most positive response from the community you serve.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a police officer and why? The least favorite?
A: My favorite part of being a police officer is having the ability to make every experience positive even if it has to end with someone being placed in hand cuffs. Empathy and compassion go a long way. I come from a big family and we did not have a lot, but we had each other. The best part of my day is school drop off, when I can greet the kids. A lot of them know me and say hello to me when I am out in the community. My second favorite part is being part of the law enforcement family. I can always count on my brothers and sisters in blue to help me out when I need it, like with the Community Night. Making the event a success was a team effort! My least favorite part of being in policing right now is being villainized for wearing a badge and uniform. I put my pants on one leg at time just like every other human being. There has been a lot of negative things said on social media, but I think it is important to always take the high road and be kind.
Q: What are the three top characteristics every police officer should have and why?
A: 1. Compassion: A lot of times we interact with people on the worst day of their life. Be compassionate — people make mistakes. This doesn’t mean let people walk all over you or disrespect you. Try and explain things or why you have to do what you are doing as it happens to help them understand the process.
2. Integrity: Do the right thing always, even when nobody is watching. If you know you’re always doing what you think is right you should never have an issue explaining why you made a decision in that split second. Lead by example.
3. Valor: Have the courage to stand up for what is right. Do not let the negative bring you down. Continue to do what is necessary to get the job done. Always have your partner’s back and be willing to run towards what everyone else is running away from. Be willing to give up everything for someone else.
One honorable mention would be having a solid family unit at home that understands law enforcement is not easy. Police Departments run 24/7/365 and that means you will work nights, holidays, weekends, miss special occasions, sporting events and birthdays. My wife Brittany is the most supportive, loving and compassionate person I have ever met. She allows me to do what I love, which is helping people, even if that means missing these kinds of occasions. She even gives up her free time to help me plan and organize things like the Menands Community Event.
Q: Who is one person, alive or dead, you would like to have lunch with and what would you talk about?
A: My grandmother’s second husband Major Frank U. Thompson is someone I would love to have lunch with. He passed away in 2009 and was a man who had no children of his own. Growing up without my biological father in the picture, he was one of the men I always looked up to, along with my Uncle Nick. He was a pilot in the U.S. Airforce and he taught me many valuable life lessons. The most important being to never quit! We would go to Ron’s Corner Restaurant in Plattsburgh and talk about all the great things that being in law enforcement allows me to do. Also, I’d tell him how I have tried to pass on the life lessons he taught me to my little girl.
If you would like to see someone featured in Five Questions contact Jim Franco at 518-878-1000 or [email protected]