By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — When Josh Wyman was a kid, his dad, LeRoy Wyman III, worked a late shift at the Niskayuna Police Department, from 3 to 11 p.m. When he came home during his dinner break, he let his son do what any kid would want to.
“I would run outside and sit in the police car and play with all the lights,” Wyman recalls.
Now 26 years old, he will have a lot more access to the cruisers’ various buttons and switches, and a lot more responsibility to go with it.
On Thursday, Jan. 15, Josh Wyman was sworn in to the Niskayuna Police Department, where his father still works and his late grandfather, LeRoy Wyman Jr., retired as a sergeant in 1990. The family is one of only two in the department’s history to produce three generations of officers. The first, the McGovern family, founded the department in the 1940s.
During the ceremony, Wyman’s family, friends, and future colleagues packed the seats in the Town Board room. His three older sisters, Michelle, Melissa, and Amy were there; Melissa and Amy each had their respective families in tow. His mother, who has ALS, attended in her wheelchair. Most of the Niskayuna Police Department showed up, too, including his father.
His wife, Beth, held the Bible while he took his oath.
Wyman said there’s always a strong turnout of current police department members whenever a new officer is sworn in, but he admitted the crowd might’ve been a little larger because of his friendships with many of the officers thanks to his previous job as a dispatcher, where he often worked alongside the Niskayuna police.
After graduating from Niskayuna High School in 2006, Wyman went to SCCC for about a year and a half before being becoming a dispatcher at the age of 19. He had just shy of seven years under his belt when he got the news that, after several months of interviews and tests, he had been chosen for the job.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get on the Police Department for years.
“There were a lot of hoops to jump through,” he added. “It wasn’t saying, ‘Oh, his family is third generation, he’s got the job.’ ”
But now that he’s been sworn in, Wyman said his deep roots in town will inform his work as an officer. He was born at Bellevue Woman’s Center, grew up in town, and chose to start his own family there.
“I moved one traffic light away from my parents’ house,” he said.
Though Wyman is the third police officer in his family, he marks the fourth generation to choose Niskayuna as his home. Census records indicate that his great-grandfather, the first LeRoy Wyman, lived at 41 Ray St.
Some of his family’s legacy in town is pure nostalgia, but more recent history will help Wyman do his job.
“You can relate to the kids in town,” he said. He imagines he’ll have a helpful common ground with high school kids. Not only did he graduate from the same school, but he’s young enough to have had some of the same teachers and taken the same classes.
“You can tell [them], ‘Hey, I’ve been where you are,’ ” he said.
Being a dispatcher for so long will help him in his new job. “I know all the roads. I know where I’m going,” he said.
Wyman was also a volunteer firefighter, as were his father and grandfather.
With so many similarities through multiple generations, it’s easy to wonder whether there’s been some family pressure to carry the torch of law enforcement. Wyman insists there never was.
“I’ve always liked it,” he said. “It was never expected of me.”
In fact, he said he would’ve gladly continued his career as a dispatcher or joined a police force elsewhere in the county if he had been offered a position.
Wyman said he’s happy things worked out the way they did. The Niskayuna Police have become a support system for the family, especially since Wyman’s mother was diagnosed with ALS in 2006. Immediately, the department partnered with St. Peter’s Hospital to hold an annual golf fundraiser and a chicken dinner at LT’s Grill. Each year, they raise $10,000 to $15,000 for the cause.
For now, though, Wyman will have to put the camaraderie of the department on hold while he takes on six tough months of training at the police academy. His first day was Jan. 20, and he won’t graduate until mid-July.
He said despite his many role models, he’s not sure exactly what to expect. There’s just so much to learn in six months, from physical training to the law, emergency driving, relationships with the community, and more. He had to shave his head before arriving at 7 a.m. on his first day, along with 30-50 classmates from around the state.
“It’s not like the movie ‘Police Academy,’ although I watched it to get ready,” he said, laughing.
Simultaneously, his wife Beth, a dietitian at St. Peter’s Hospital, is starting work on her master’s degree.
Oh, and their first child is due in March.
It’s a boy, and Wyman — whose middle name, unsurprisingly, is LeRoy — will carry on the family naming tradition with a slight variation.
“My grandfather’s nickname was Roy,” he said. That will be their son’s name, too.
It promises to be a tumultuous time for the family, but Wyman can already picture the payoff.
“There’s that little kid in me that’s so excited to turn on the red lights,” he said.