Effective January 31, Sleepy Hollow Police Chief John Kapica will retire, and according to the former Police Chief of Greenburgh (who retired on November 28, 2009) this time it’s for real. At age 66 and with over 39 years of law enforcement experience, Kapica has headed up the Police Department for the past year. His one-year contract has a provision that would have enabled him to remain for an additional six months.
“I had some health issues this year that turned out not to be too big of a deal, however, they put things in the proper perspective for me. I am going to stop working. I may help the Village out if there is something they need me to do, however, this is the end of my working career,” he said.
John Kapica, for the past year, has been very visible in the Sleepy Hollow community. His crisp white shirt and tie along with his spry demeanor was a common sight on Beekman Avenue. He talked easily with residents and merchants as well. “This is a great little Village and I was so impressed. Everything is so compact and you get to meet an awful lot of people. Everybody has been very friendly. I couldn’t walk down the street without it taking me twenty-five minutes because I would stop and talk to three people,” he said cheerfully. Regarding special events within Sleepy Hollow, Kapica was equally as positive. “I was totally floored by all the things going on in the Village. I wouldn’t let things like that happen in Greenburgh due to the [limited] resources we had. I tried to discourage them. But in this Village that attracts so many people, the events just add to it.”
Regarding his successor (which may have been approved by the Board on 1/18) Chief Kapica made a recommendation to promote from within the Department. He could not share the name with this publication, however, unofficially two names have surfaced – both lieutenants – Greg Camp and Frank Hrotko. “I think promoting from within the Department is the best thing to do for morale. We have come a long way and we are (kind of) on the right track now, and the way to do it is to have someone who was here with me over last year to continue to move us in the right direction,” he said.
When asked about an issue that involved Philipse Manor residents and the enforcement of “no street parking” laws, Kapica said, “Regardless of what people say Philipse Manor parking has not ever worked. I’m the type of guy that if there is a law on the books, I am going to enforce that law. Here I am coming into the Department and I look at the productivity figures for my personnel and I find they are down in the dumps. When I interview every guy in the Police Department and they tell me the reason for that is political influence in the Department, and guys are being told to do this and not to do that, I tell them [officers] that’s not the way it is anymore. ‘You are going to go out and do your job. I don’t give a damn who you lock up as long as you do it right. There’s no excuse anymore. Politics are out of this Police Department for all intents and purposes’”.
With this new charge, officers began ticketing parking offenders in Philipse Manor. “That flew in the face of what had been the practice for many years and people [residents of the Manor] became irate. My position was that everybody was going to be treated the same way. That’s the way the law is. You can’t have it for residents one way and for outsiders the other way. I made my feelings known. You either give everybody tickets [for parking in Philipse Manor] or nobody tickets,” he said, emphatically. The result of Chief Kapica’s determination to uphold the law as written has led the Mayor and Board of Trustees to hold public hearings with Manor residents several times. “Legally I can’t tell cops not to enforce the law. I mean I can’t do that. I can tell them to use some discretion and if there are a set of special circumstances to take them into consideration,” he said. “I believe in treating everybody the same,” the Chief added.
John Kapica has been a breath of fresh air within the Village of Sleepy Hollow and his no-nonsense and common sense approach to law enforcement has been equally refreshing. By the time this story reaches readers, Sleepy Hollow may have a new Chief of Police, who continues to enforce the law as written, regardless of neighborhood or influence.