Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Syracuse Police: UFO Attack!

When we recently reviewed a very important period of UFO sightings throughout Central New York during 1978, I mentioned a T-shirt peddled successfully on the streets of Syracuse, resulting from a bitter conflict pitting Syracuse Police Department personnel and their chief, the late Thomas Sardino, against one another. Though a combination of factors caused this dispute to boil over and surface publicly, the basic story here involves a very unwelcome code of silence that Sardino attempted to impose upon his officers.

A number of them, like members of the general Central New York population, reported their own intriguing UFO sightings publicly, causing local and national media to exert pressure on local official agencies for more information. For several weeks, the UFO issue appeared to supercede customary cops-and-robbers duties in Syracuse (and, actually, amongst numerous law enforcement agencies in the region). At some point, annoyed with his officers revealing their sightings -- and their personal feelings about him -- to the press, Sardino attempted to impose a news blackout and insisted that his officers shut up about UFOs.

Things became increasingly ugly, particularly between the chief and a specific officer or two or three, and it wasn't long before this (click on and enlarge the visual) T-shirt hit the streets of Syracuse, with the help of Sardino's subordinates. I regret that the artist's name is unknown to me, otherwise I should like to offer credit.

The artwork here isn't clear enough for detail, but that's chief Sardino depicted in the flying saucer with a routine cigar protruding from his mouth, and he appears to be shooting a death ray or something at his officers as they fire back at him with an arsenal of firearms. The number 57 on the Syracuse police car does have a meaning, but I can't recall specifically -- I think it references a certain "trouble-making" police officer's patrol vehicle. I only just found the shirt in my collection-o'-things (no small feat, I assure you).

So now you know a little more about Syracuse than you probably wanted (Obligatory weather note: I'll soon believe that winter's bitterness visits this area for nine months out of 12, or, no, make that 10 months out of 12, and any consecutive days ripe with sunlight during the rest of the year resemble a near-miracle), but despite a lot of deadly serious UFO reporting in Central NY at that time the T-shirt was great humor relief -- and, need I mention, its appearance further outraged chief Sardino, and I can only imagine the words and vulgarities exploding throughout his department as fellow officers tried not to laugh in his presence. I don't recall that he was very much for a public sense of humor, though, in all fairness, he and his people did run a good department when non-UFO matters were involved.

However, let this be a lesson for chiefs of police everywhere: Gentlemen and ladies of the law, if your officers see saucers, for gosh sakes, let 'em talk publicly, and be very, very kind, please. They're probably seeing something, not nothing, and UFO research is piled high with excellent UFO observations reported in depth by police officers all over the world. And you sure don't want to end up on a T-shirt because (obviously) that thing will be around, chief, to haunt your reputation forever.