By Barry Dalton
Depending on what day it is, you’ll either find 30-year Air Force veteran Raymond Bumbales policing the small town of Farber where he has been the police chief for the past four years or you’ll find him patrolling the streets of North St. Louis County.
As a part-time officer in North St. Louis County, Bumbales knew many colleagues who were killed in the line of duty, so he knows how important community outreach is to help prevent crime before it happens. The chief says he’s particularly interested in using his skills, resources and time to help disadvantaged children.
“In North County St. Louis you see kids that are poor, that don’t have food, that don’t have clothes, that have boarded up windows on their house,” said Bumbales. “Whether they’re doing drugs or committing crimes, I want to make a difference and hopefully at least one of them will see that we ‘the police’ are the ‘good guys,’ and they will grow up to be a school teacher, soldier, fireman or police officer.”
Bumbales says that although there tends to be less crime in Audrain County, there are still many people living in poverty, or who suffer from alcohol or drug addictions, or who come from broken homes, and the children from these homes need strong role models. That’s one of the reasons he asked the Farber Board of Aldermen to let him start a Junior Patrol.
However, the program is open to any student between third and ninth grades regardless of need. Most of the 18 children in the program come from healthy environments but have joined the patrol for various reasons, whether it’s to do good deeds for the community or to get to know their local police officers and firefighters.
“When we started the Junior Patrol it was all about manners, integrity, you know,” explained Bumbales. “Respecting your parents, your teachers, police officers, firefighters, the elderly. In the summer, we’ll go mow grass for free for elderly people. We’ll go pick up sticks. We’ll shovel the snow. We’re not asked to do it. We go out and do it.”
The police department and its junior patrol also do many other types of activities such as watching movies, learning to cook basic foods, how to start a campfire, practicing bike safety, planting gardens, playing sports and doing events such as 5K runs and food drives.
“We’ve had three food drives that we’ve done. It goes to a Farber family in need. This past year it went to a Vietnam vet,” Bumbales said.
Students are taught manners, integrity, honor, respect and discipline by Bumbales and the program’s instructors. Before entering civilian law enforcement, Bumbales was in the U.S. Air Force Security Forces. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Central Missouri State University, as well as associate degrees from two other colleges. Currently, the instructors for the Junior Patrol are Jamie Day, a Farber firefighter and alderman; Everett James, a chaplain who is also a former St. Louis police officer; and periodically Bumbales’ brother, Casey, who is a former sous chef.
“I want to make a difference,” Bumbales says. “When I was a young boy, my very next door neighbor was a Lake County policeman. When I was in eighth and ninth grade, I became a member of the Lake County, Ind., Police Cadets.”
Bumbales says that’s when he knew he wanted to be a police officer.
“That was the first time I ever shot a handgun, at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. We got to work in the jail,” Bumbales recalls. “My whole life that’s all I ever wanted to do was be a cop.”
Members of the Farber patrol get a sweatshirt in the winter and a T-shirt in the summer that says Junior Patrol and has a badge on it. These were paid for by a $20 per month stipend provided by the city.
There is also a Peewee Patrol for younger kids that was started when one of the children had a hard time keeping up with the older kids.
“So, he was actually the reason we started the Peewee Patrol, which turned out great,” Bumbales said.
The Peewee Patrol does activities more appropriate for their age group, such as coloring, crafts, feeding animals or helping with flower gardens, but they are also invited to all of the Junior Patrol’s major events. While the Junior Patrol typically meets once a month for a couple of hours, the Peewee Patrol meets less often for about 30 minutes per session.
When winter ends, Bumbales says the patrol will have a team cooking competition with parents and junior patrol instructors invited. He says he loves children and wants more than anything to make a difference in people’s lives even if it’s just one person.
The chief said that students from neighboring towns are also welcome to join. He already has some children participating from Vandalia. Parents simply need to give him a call.