20 Years Ago in Dan’s Papers: The Case for Manny Quinn

This is the seventh year that Manny Quinn has worked for the East Hampton Town Police Department. Now it turns out a majority of the officers in the force would like him fired, relegated to the garbage dump. And their reason is that it is just these kinds of jokes that give the police force a bad name.

“It is demeaning and humiliating,” said former Town Recreation Officer Robert Cooper. Cooper has recently retired from the force. And he has the names of 38 of the 52 members of the Police Benevolent Association on a petition, asking Chief Scott to do away with Quinn. So far the Chief, supported by Town Supervisor Bullock, has not complied.

Quinn, for those of you who have not had the experience of meeting him, is a store mannequin. He is dressed in a police uniform and he can be found almost any day somewhere along the side of the road in East Hampton Town at the wheel of a police car. His job: slow down the traffic as it comes up the street. An evaluation of his job: Very Successful.

Trouble is that Quinn sometimes slides sideways on the seat and falls over. Or he pitches forward and can be seen with his forehead on the steering wheel. Twice he has been stolen (kidnapped?). And twice he has been recovered, once fairly mutilated. It is these qualities about Quinn, his inability to sit up straight and his inability to ward off burglars and vandals, that has led the PBA to petition, quite seriously, for Quinn’s retirement.

It seems to this reporter, however, that there is a solution to this problem that does not require his relegation to the garbage heap. Quinn does a great deal of good. (Other than the swearing that occurs when a motorist pulls off the road and walks over to ask directions.) The PBA contention that an empty police car would accomplish the same thing is false. Motorists look up the road and if they see a figure at the wheel of a police car by the side of the road, they slow down. Quinn has undoubtedly saved lives and prevented accidents.

At the same time, it is also true that what has been done to Quinn demeans the good name of the East Hampton police force. I believe that with the following actions, all this can, simply, be prevented.

Put a wire on Quinn. The police certainly have the equipment and knowhow for this. They could wire him up with a. a motion detector and b. a location detector. Both of these could be hooked up by radio to police headquarters.

The motion detector would be set in activate mode when Quinn is set up at his assignment in the morning. If he should slump over or fall over or if he should be moved in any way, the motion detector would set off an alarm at headquarters. Live police officers could be at the site in minutes, either to deal with vandals or to pick Quinn back up from an accidental fall.

A location detector on Quinn would allow the police to find Quinn no matter where he might be taken. Arrests could be made. People who have desecrated police property, people with a bad attitude, could be brought before the bench.

I am making these proposals quite seriously. My only other thought on the matter is I think Quinn looks too much like a cartoon character. His basic structure, that of a store mannequin, gives him the good looks of a fashionable young man. To put a second rate wig on him, to put long sideburns on him and a moustache, which is how he looks in his current incarnation, detracts from both his effectiveness (people recognize this bizarre look from afar,). When the Army wants to recruit people, they put posters up of handsome, happy young men. Quinn would be better off following in this tradition. In other words, he is not marketing the force properly.

Quinn needs an official Day of Beauty at the Spa at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk. And someone to act as his PR and marketing agent.

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