as seen in the Times Herald Record

In the line of duty
by Katie Ryan
staff writer

CHESTER - Last year, New York City's finest created a program to boost relations between communities and their police officers.  They called it C.P.R. Courtesy. Professionalism. Respect.

But as one Montgomery man discovered, C.P.R. isn't confined to the five boroughs of the Big Apple.

Matthew Latimer, of Latimer Plumbing and Heating, praised Town of Chester's finest for their homegrown version of C.P.R. But the story of how that happened is really a case of R.C.P. - Returning Cash to a Plumber. Quick thinking by two Chester officers reunited Latimer with his lost money clip containing $1300 cash.

It wa sa Friday evening, a few hours after the 4 p.m. shift change at the station.  Sunset comes earlier these days, but that night, Sept. 12, the fading orange of the early fall sun was bright enough to stall the flash of headlights for at least another half hour, and Latimer was driving his truck down King's Highway in search of a pay phone.

The Town of Chester road is lined with a large industrial park and a string of farms, making hte pay phone outside the town police station the best bet for miles.

Enter Police Officer Johhny Motz.  While Latimer was talking on the phone, the 30-year-old officer was getting ready for patrol.  He saw Latimer on the phone, his work truck nearby and asked if everything was all right.

When Latimer responded that all was well, Lotz was off with a "Good evening."

A few minutes after leaving the station, Motz got a call over the radio from fellow officer Jack Courtenay.  Courtenay had discovered a wad of cash on top of the pay phone.  Then he remembered Motz talking to that guy on the phone.

"I think I was joking around with him," Courtenay said, as he recalled the radio call.  "John, did you leave $1300 on the phone?"  

Motz remembered Latimer : But instead of waiting for him to come back and claim the lost cash, Motz decided to do a little detective work.  Moments later, Motz spotted Latimer's truck near Sugar Loaf, a few miles from the station.

"Do you know why I'm stopping you?" Motz asked a confused Latimer.
"What did you forget?"

Latimer felt for his money clip.  In a flash, his mind went to the telephone.  Motz smiled and told him the money was safe back at the station house. Once they checked the initials on the money clip against his license, Latimer's day looked a whole lot better.

Though he would remember the officers' help for days after, he forgot to get their names, so he wrote to Police Chief Dennis Nolan describing the evening's events.  "Please accept my heartiest congratulations on having such honest, professional and courteous officers in your department," Latimer wrote.

It sure is nice when the boss gets a glowing letter about your job performance, but Motz isn't comfortable with talk of a reward.