If you drove by the State Police station on Route 29 in Greenwich on Thursday afternoon and noticed loads of extra police cars lining the parking lot and road, rest assured there was no big emergency.
Instead, police officers and prosecutors from around the region came by the station for the last day of work for the State Police senior investigator at the station who was ending a 38-year career with the agency.
Robert Stampfli had overseen criminal investigations at the station for the last 5 years, but held a variety of roles with the agency for decades, starting as a road trooper.
The size of the crowd that drove to the station in Greenwich to see him off spoke of the respect he had earned over the years. Officers from Washington, Warren, Saratoga, Rensselaer and Albany counties were among those in attendance, along with Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan and several of his staff members.
I got to know Stampfli way back in 1992, when I was just starting my journalism career and went for a "ride-along" with him for a patrol shift on the Northway. I was a green reporter right out of college, and he couldn't have been more accommodating. I learned a lot.
That shift was shortly after Stampfli, driving one of the Ford Mustang chase cars the agency used at the time, pursued two armed robbers for miles as they high-performance Trans Am after they had ditched other patrols, got both into custody and recovered a loaded handgun. He received a commendation from the State Police superintendent for that caper.
He's always been one of the nicest guys we in the media have worked with, while also being a hardnosed cop who was involved in many major investigations over the years working in Saratoga and Washington counties.
The son of a trooper, Stampfli's brothers and sisters in law enforcement presented him with a wooden flag adorned with both his badge number and his father's.
Senior Investigator Todd McPhail has been chosen to replace Stampfli as senior investigator at the station.
-- Don Lehman