BEEKMANTOWN — Keeping his right hand high and steady, 11-year-old Lucas McClatchie gave all his attention to Clinton County Undersheriff Robert Craig as he recited the Law Enforcement Oath of Office and Oath of Honor from his desk at the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department to an earnest McClatchie.
And with those words, McClatchie was officially sworn in as a sheriff deputy.
“Deputy McClatchie, you have a safe day and a good day,” Craig said.
Every year, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office administers the D.A.R.E. program to more than 900 fifth-grade students from schools across the county, free of charge to the schools, thanks to community donations.
The program’s curriculum focuses on teaching kids decision and communication skills. D.A.R.E. helps students recognize and respond to peer pressure and bullying, and teaches them how to deal with stress. The youngsters also learn about internet and social media safety, among many other topics.
After completing the program, fifth-graders are asked to write an essay detailing what they learned.
Based on the essay, a winner is chosen from each class and their name is entered into the drawing to be a sheriff deputy for a day.
McClatchie, a former Cumberland Head Elementary fifth-grader, was that lucky student.
“I was excited,” McClatchie said. “I didn’t think I was going to win.”
REPORTING FOR DUTY
With a jam-packed day full of events, McClatchie rode shotgun with deputies to different mock calls around the county.
First, an accident investigation near Emergency Services Drive.
“I had to figure out whose fault it was,” McClatchie said.
An exclusive behind the scenes tour of Plattsburgh International Airport followed.
“It was very, very fun,” he said.
After lunch with the deputies, a call came in about a paddle boarder in distress on Lake Champlain.
McClatchie, with the help of the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol, set out from Treadwell Bay Marina Dock toward Rocky Point to assist in the rescue.
This portion of McClatchie’s day turned out to be his favorite moment.
Once arriving to the overturned paddler, McClatchie threw out a life-saving buoy to the paddler before pulling him closer to the boat.
With ease, McClatchie helped the paddler onto the boat and secured his paddleboard on board the vessel.
Beaming with pride, McClatchie continued with his deputy work and made sure the paddler was OK before instructing the Marine Patrol to head back to the marina.
But McClatchie’s day wasn’t over yet.
With additional help from the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol, McClatchie boated over to Point au Roche to assist Sgt. Bill Dominy in locating a man with dementia lost in the woods.
The lost man, wearing a Project Lifesaver bracelet, was located by McClatchie and Dominy using equipment specialized to track the bracelets.
‘THEY RISK THEIR LIVES’
Reflecting on his day, McClatchie said that he had a better understanding of what it takes to be a sheriff’s deputy.
“They risk their lives to save other people's lives,” he said.
“Getting to hang out with them is very important to me.”
Deputy Jon Seiden, youth services coordinator with the department, said he admired McClatchie’s drive and character.
“I think a real important part about Lucas’s day was learning what an important role discretion plays into being a police officer,” Seiden said.
“Lucas chose to give a break to someone who was honest but acknowledged they had done something wrong.”
“I thought that showed some great character and judgement,” he said.
McClatchie’s maturity as well as his ability to learn quickly left Seiden impressed.
“I look forward to seeing what Lucas does in his future.”
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