WHO WE ARE
- About the Chief
- Executive Staff
- Community Outreach
- Department History
- Former Chiefs
- Organizational Chart
- Wall of Honor
- Special Units
Chief Zack began his law enforcement career in 1984 as a New York State Department of Corrections Officer. He spent three years between Sing-Sing and Attica Correctional Facilities. In 1987 he joined the Cheektowaga Police Department where he has now served for thirty years; being appointed Chief of Police in 2011.
Prior to his appointment as Chief, he was a Patrol Supervisor and head of the Department’s Sex Offense and Crime Scene Investigation Units. His success in these positions led to his eventual promotion as the Department’s Detective Bureau Commander.
Currently Chief Zack serves on the Board of Governors for the International Association of Chiefs of Police and locally, he serves on the Board of Trustees for Erie County Central Police Services and the Board of Trustees for the Erie County Crime Analysis Center.
He is a past president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and is also Chairman of the Joint Advisory Committee for the Central Police Services Training Academy.
Chief Zack possesses a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Hilbert College, where he also serves as an adjunct instructor in forensic science and crime scene photography.
Assistant Chief Jim Speyer
Assistant Chief Jim Speyer is a 28 year veteran of the Police Department. He graduated at the top of his academy class and as a patrolman he served in many different positions throughout the department, including SWAT, Field Training Officer, and the Department’s Honor Guard. In his fourth year he was promoted to Sergeant and as a first line supervisor he supervised in administration and patrol. Speyer was the Training Sergeant for 5 years and also served as the Entry Team Leader and Sniper Team Leader on the SWAT Team. . Upon being promoted to Lieutenant he served as the Community Service Lieutenant, Afternoon and Dayshift Patrol Lieutenant, and Accident Investigation Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain a few years later and served as the Information & Technology Supervisor as well as the department’s Public Information Officer, and Honor Guard Supervisor. Speyer was promoted to Assistant Chief in February of 2014 where he currently serves. Assistant Chief Speyer is a past president of Western New York Concerns of Police Survivors and remains active in the Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy where he teaches NYS Penal Law. He is also a past president of the Cheektowaga Police Captains and Lieutenants Association.
Captain Michael Isbrandt
Captain Isbrandt began his career with the Cheektowaga Police Department in 1989. In addition to his regular duties as a Patrolman, Captain Isbrandt also was a Field Training Officer, a member of the Bicycle Patrol, a member of the Support Team, a Union Shift Representative, and lastly assigned to the Accident Investigation Unit.
Captain Isbrandt’s first promotion was to the rank of Patrol Sergeant in 2002 where he spent time supervising the 1st and 3rd patrol platoons. In 2003, he was then promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. At that rank, Captain Isbrandt spent 4 years as the Personnel Development Lieutenant where he supervised and managed the background and hiring process for sworn and civilian personnel, the Field Training Officer Program, and the Department’s In-Service training.
In 2007, Captain Isbrandt was appointed to the Detective Bureau as a Detective Lieutenant supervising the day shift Detectives and the Sex Offense Squad. From that position, he was promoted to Captain of the Detective Bureau in 2011.
Captain Michael Sliwinski
Captain Michael Sliwinski joined the Cheektowaga Police Department in 1991. He is a graduate of The State University of New York at Buffalo with a Degree in Economics.
While working as a Patrolman, Captain Sliwinski served, at various intervals, on all three platoon shifts. In that time period he was a Field Training Officer, Bicycle Patrol Officer, Drug Court Warrant Officer, and a School Liaison at Cheektowaga Central High School. Captain Sliwinski also served as a Task Force Officer with the Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.
Following his promotion to Sergeant in 2002, Captain Sliwinski supervised the 1st and 3rd platoons.
In 2004, Captain Sliwinski was promoted to Lieutenant and commanded the 1st and 3rd platoons until 2005 when he was transferred to head the Vice, Gambling, and Narcotics Unit (VGN). Captain Sliwinski served as Tactical Unit Commander from 2008 to 2011 and is a member of the Professional Standards Unit.
Captain Sliwinski was promoted to Captain in 2011.
Captain Scott Pilat
Captain Pilat began his law enforcement career in 1989 as a New York State Department of Corrections Officer. He spent four years between Sing-Sing and Oneida Correctional Facilities. In 1993 he joined the Cheektowaga Police Department. He graduated #1 in his Police Academy class. As a patrolman he assisted in the transition from sworn to civilian personnel at the headquarters front desk, and was an advisor for the Cheektowaga Police Explorers program.
Captain Pilat was promoted to Sergeant in 2002. He spent 5 year as a Sergeant working in Central Records and as a Patrol Watch Commander. As a Sergeant he was also a breacher on the SWAT Team and in charge of the Tactical Support Team. In 2007 he was promoted to Headquarters Lieutenant. Two year later he requested and received a transfer to head the department’s Accident Investigation Unit. Shortly after that, he was also awarded command of the SWAT Team. In 2012, his successes in these positions resulted in his promotion to Captain of Administration. Currently Captain Pilat manages the department’s budget and fleet, along with the training and dispatch units.
Captain Pilat has an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and is currently the Vice President of the Captains and Lieutenants Association.
THE EARLY YEARS
The early years of law enforcement in the Town of Cheektowaga started when the town charter provided for two constables who were elected to office. The town was a rural farm community that had a need to elect game constables starting in 1873. Cheektowaga began growing with the railroads as their yards were spreading across the town. Constables remained only as elected officials, until 1901, when the town began appointing special constables and adapted rules for the governing of the constables. These actions were the first attempts by the town to gain some control over the constable force. The year 1901 also saw the appointment of the first chief constable, Albert F. Carl. He was asked to resign a year later.
The decade of the 1920’s was a time of growth for the Town of Cheektowaga, as evidenced by the opening of the Buffalo Airport in June 1926, the opening of the new town hall in February 1927 and a population that doubled from 13,323 in 1920 to over 25,000 in 1930. The constable force was also growing along with the town and the conduct of some of the constables was becoming a problem. The town saw a need to appoint a Chief Constable, Amedeo Coppola, in February 1922. This was the beginning of many changes in the constable force. Constables were assigned to districts, given badges and applications were now investigated. In 1927, the new town hall provided the force with a modern station and lock-up. In 1928, a standard uniform was required, a Chief Constable was again appointed along with a lieutenant of constables. All warrants and summons were now returnable in the new court located in town hall. This replaced arraignments at the homes of the town justices, as had been the practice. On May 1st, 1928, the town abolished the old system of elected and appointed constables and established a full time salaried constable force. The decade also saw the beginnings of traffic enforcement and accident investigation with constables on motorcycles doing speed enforcement. It also saw the installation of telephones and call boxes. The decade ended tragically when Constable John Bauer was the first Cheektowaga Officer to die in the line of duty on January 5th, 1929.
The decade of the 1930’s was a turbulent time in the history of the police force. Many officers were dismissed for charges of bribery and brutality and the chief constable was dismissed from his post. Officers were indicted by the grand jury for assault and beating defendants for confessions. In 1932, the entire police department was abolished and re-formed with Charles Wohlford as the first Police Chief. Civil service was introduced and the officers received their first week of paid vacation. The thirties saw the formation of the Sloan Police Force and the hiring of the first police matrons and telephone operators at Town Hall. The department also purchased vehicles: two Chevrolets and two Fords both equipped with sirens and short wave length radios. Twenty-four hour police service was instituted.
The country was at war and members of the police department answered the call for military service. Civilian defense authorities had telephone lines for defense information set up in the police station which was located in the basement of Town Hall and at the fire halls. A modern three-way type FM radio system for broadcasting and receiving was installed as well as a switchboard to handle the volume of calls. The Accident Prevention and Traffic and Detective Bureaus were both formed. The detective bureau had an identification section and a crime detection laboratory. A captain’s position was created in the department and the rank of police chief was now a civil service appointment. Police dispatchers and telephone operators were also civil service. Officers asked for more vacation time and to be paid for overtime hours that they worked.
The 1950’s started the era of the Cold War with Russia and auxiliary police in Cheektowaga were organized in the event of an attack on the community by bombing. Crossing guards saw their beginnings and foot patrol was instituted. Youth programs were mentioned to combat juvenile delinquency. The radio system was connected to the state and teletypes were used to communicate. The fire radio system that connected with the County of Erie was installed. Officers used “photo traffic cameras” which were designed to reduce accidents by determining speeds and taking a picture of the violator. A traffic timing device called “speed watch” was used to clock violators. Cameras were used to make identification photos of prisoners.
The police chief joined the International Association of Chiefs of Police and attended a conference on community relations sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Cheektowaga officers were assigned to patrol the Greater Buffalo International Airport. The first firearms course was set up at a high school range to enable officers to sharpen their aim with periodic practice. Social Security coverage was obtained for officers as well as twenty five year retirement.
Law enforcement in the sixties began to place emphasis on education and training and many officers took courses in sociology, criminology and police science. The first Cheektowaga officers graduated from the basic recruit course given by the Erie County Sheriff’s Department with the assistance of the FBI and Erie County Police Chiefs. A police commission was established with a police commissioner and two town board members. Cheektowaga Fire Chiefs established a central dispatching unit for the eleven volunteer fire companies. The later part of the decade saw the police department moving into its new headquarters at 3223 Union Road, complete with room for 136 Patrolmen, a pistol range, a fire dispatch office and a cell block. The Penal Law of New York State was enacted in 1967. The sixties also saw the formation of the Police Benevolent Association and the Captains and Lieutenants Association as recognized bargaining units after the enactment of the Public Employee Fair Employment Act.
OFFICER JOSEPH BASHAW
On November 14th, 2002, Officer Joseph Bashaw confronted two armed robbery suspects at the Wilson Farms store, 2761 Harlem Road. After being ordered to the ground, one suspect, armed with a shotgun, attempted to shoot Officer Bashaw. Officer Bashaw was forced to fire at the suspect, wounding one robber and taking him into custody.
OFFICER JERALD BARBER
On July 21st, 1987, Officer Jerald Barber was injured tackling a man armed with a shotgun who had held police at bay for two hours and forcing him to the ground during a confrontation at Walden Avenue and Union Road.
OFFICER BRONISLAUS NAPIERSKI
On July 16th, 1982, Officer Bronislaus Napierski confronted a man who was holding a hostage at knifepoint at the Buffalo International Airport. When the hostage broke free, the suspect lunged at Officer Napierski with the knife. Officer Napierski shot and critically wounded the suspect.
OFFICER ROBERT WALKER
On October 20th, 1977, Officer Robert Walker confronted an armed robbery suspect at the Holiday Inn on Genesee Street who fired shots at him and his partner, David Tolsma. Tolsma was fatally wounded in the confrontation. Walker returned fire wounding the suspect.
OFFICER THOMAS ROWAN
On July 20th, 1977, Officer Thomas Rowan was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and burns sustained while trying to rescue the pilot of an airplane that had crashed into the Westinghouse Plant on Genesee Street.
OFFICER WILLIAM BELZ
On July 1st, 1977, Officer William Belz sustained injuries physically subduing and arresting an armed man who had fired several gunshots at him and his partner, Robert Burgess. Burgess was fatally wounded in the confrontation at Sattler’s Drugs on William Street.
DETECTIVE CHARLES IWANSKI
On June 24th, 1974, Detective Charles Iwanski suffered a gunshot wound to the leg in a confrontation with a man armed with a .30 caliber carbine in the parking lot of St. Aloysius Church located at 157 Cleveland Drive.
OFFICER ALOISIUS KLAJA
On June 24th, 1974, Officer Aloisius Klaja suffered a massive gunshot wound to the chest in a confrontation with a man armed with a .30 caliber carbine in the parking lot of St. Aloysius Church located at 157 Cleveland Drive.
LIEUTENANT WILLIAM SIWINSKI
On June 24th, 1974, Lieutenant William Siwinski suffered two gunshot wounds to the arm and hip during a confrontation with a man armed with a .30 caliber carbine in the parking lot of St. Aloysius Church located at 157 Cleveland Drive.