DEC's Deming Lindsley retires after 4 decades

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Editor’s note: The following story, which is about DEC Officer Lt. Deming Lindsley, was written by Sullivan County Democrat Publisher Fred Stabbert III and appeared in that paper on August 23. Lt Lindsley is well known to the sportsmen’s community in the Central Catskill Region and Publisher Stabbert generously offered to share his story with Catskill Mountain News readers.

By Fred Stabbert III
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 pubic 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 hunting 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 huntin’ 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.”

Sportsmen’s Friend
Despite being “The Guy” who has to uphold the law, Deming said he never had a problem with sportsmen.

“I always found that the true sportsmen are my allies,” he said. “The best cases I ever got involved in was from info from a sportsman. It is not us against them. It is all of us against a few bad ones.”
And Deming said he would never reveal a source.
He also thanked the Sullivan County Federation of Sportsmen – New York’s largest sportsmen’s association – for all their support.

“The Federation bought us decoys, they were always there for us,” he said. “The bought us better equipment and really helped.”

And as a regular attendee of the monthly Federation meetings in Kauneonga Lake, Lindsley said he was always getting invited to hunting camps.
“If I didn’t stop in, I’d get in trouble,” he said.

More than just a job
“I worked for 14,837 days,” Deming said without missing a beat. “I really appreciate the taxpayers of the State of New York (for paying his salary).

“My glass was always half full. People don’t realize how good it is,” he said.
Deming had a state issued vehicle, computer, cell phone, uniforms and more.

“They took my gun, they took my handcuffs, they even took my pepper spray,” he said. “I’m done.
“Any police work is [inherently dangerous],” he said. “You are by yourself so you have to depend on your training, your skills and prayer.

“There is not a problem with good guys with guns,” he said. “The problem is bad guys with guns.
“I never had to use it [deadly force],” Deming said. “I prayed to God that I never had to use it.”
Lindsley was trained to be a Critical Incident Responder, whereby he would go to some of the major incidents around the state and Northeast.

“People are our (the DEC’s) greatest asset,” he said. “Television...it’s not like that in the real world.”
Deming said he took a lot of schooling to help DEC officers deal with the trauma of having to use deadly force and would travel around the state to wherever he was needed.
“I did other police agencies, too,” he said. “I offered my services to a  DEP cop and the Colchester P.D.”

Deming said one of the most rewarding aspects of his job was getting involved with major disasters.
He spent two weeks in New York City following 9-11 and also was in Long Beach, Long Island following their hurricane.
“The DEC comes equipped with ATVs and we know how to use them,” he said. “We are used to being out and about and I could send a man out in the morning and tell him what we needed done and he would be out all day.

“It’s so rewarding getting to help the people, providing a service to them,” he said. “I always enjoyed those assignments.”
And today, the DEC is involved in Homeland Security, caring devices on their belts which detects radioactivity.

“They are so sensitive they even know when a person has had a Nuclear Stress Test,” he said.
“Times have gotten much more professional during my 40 years,” he said. “We are now hooked in with 911, state police, sheriff’s and all the police departments.”

On his retirement
“It’s time. Police work is a young man’s job,” he said. “I have a lot of projects lined up.” And a lifetime of friends and family to visit and enjoy the outdoors with.