University Police Department gives back during holiday season

Civic engagement is an important part of Alfred State College, and its University Police Department takes that to heart.

Over the course of the past few years, the department has partnered with local organizations to give back around the holidays. This year was no exception.

Officer Matthew Whitney.
Officer Matthew Whitney

Last month, 11 members of the University Police Department, led by Lt. Scott Bingham, took part in the No-Shave November initiative, raising a total of $750 for Allegany County Cancer Services. The goal of No-Shave November, according to, “is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Donate the money you typically spend on shaving and grooming to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.”

The member who raised the most money in donations was allowed to keep their beard through December. For the second year in a row, that honor went to Dispatcher Craig Heller.

University Police statewide had raised $17,542 for No-Shave November, surpassing hundreds of other organizations across the United States. Other departments, including Alfred State’s University Police, opted to use those funds for local charities in their respective communities.

In addition to this effort, Lt. Kris Bianchi partnered with the Office of Civic Engagement to collect clothing and other necessities for the ACCORD Community Action Angels program, which helps community members in need of housewares, school supplies, personal care items, and holiday assistance.

According to a description of Community Action Angels on the ACCORD website, the program is made possible by donations from the community and volunteers dedicated to assisting and bringing hope and comfort to those experiencing unfortunate circumstances, regardless of income.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, Chief Matthew Heller, Assistant Chief Scott Richardson, and Officer Gregg Mark joined forces with the Hornell and Canisteo Police Departments at the Hornell Walmart and participated in “Shop with a Cop.”

Chief Heller said, “The department has historically participated with other Allegany County law enforcement agencies at the Wellsville Kmart, but with Kmart closing, we looked for other options. Assistant Chief Scott Richardson contacted the Hornell Police Department, who graciously let us join them and the Canisteo Police Department at Walmart. We had fun and really enjoyed the experience with the kids we met and we hope to go back next year.”

Dispatcher Craig Heller, Assistant Chief Scott Richardson, and Lt. Jeff Wilcox
l-r Dispatcher Craig Heller, Assistant Chief Scott Richardson, and Lt. Jeff Wilcox

Richardson noted, “It was a great experience watching the excitement on the faces of these children as they shopped for members of their families and for themselves. Events like this allow parents and children to see police officers in a positive environment. I am already looking forward to next year.”

Additionally, Lt. Jeff Wilcox and Dispatcher Craig Heller joined Chief Heller and Assistant Chief Richardson as they “rang the bell” outside Walmart for the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Drive.

Dispatcher Heller, said, “It was nice to see so many people in the Christmas spirit chip in to help the Salvation Army, who just last month stepped up for some of our local residents after a devastating fire.”