Trooper receives holiday surprise
Anonymous woman’s thank-you card comes with $1,000 gift
Updated 10:06 p.m.
GUILDERLAND State police have released information on a wanted woman, but she’s no criminal.
They want to thank a 40-something woman for an anonymous gift of $1,000 that she presented to a state trooper. But then they want to politely decline it and ask her to instead donate it to charity.
Trooper Christopher Maniscalco was responding to a call in the area of Elmtree Lane about 5 p.m. Sunday as part of a burglary investigation. A woman pulled up in a van and asked if he was on a call and had a moment. Maniscalco said he did, figuring she needed directions or something.
“She comes up to me and said ‘I see you around here a lot and appreciate what you do. I just want to say Merry Christmas,’ ” Maniscalco said Wednesday at a news conference describing the incident.
She then handed him a sealed envelope, which he slipped under the visor of his cruiser and thought of it again only at the end of his shift. When he opened up the envelope, he found a thank-you card and 10 $100 bills.
“I was shocked,” he said.
Maniscalco said troopers get cards during the holiday season, but something like this has never happened to him.
“Never in a million years would I have expected [it],” he said.
He immediately contacted his supervisor and followed proper protocol.
“We’re not allowed to accept gifts, period, much less $1,000,” said Capt. William Keeler, state police zone commander for Albany and Rensselaer counties.
Unfortunately, without being directed to donate the money elsewhere, it would be treated as lost-and-found property.
“After a certain period of time, probably a year, it just goes to the state general fund,” Keeler said.
So police are hoping the woman will come forward. They describe her as about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, in her early to mid-40s, with blond hair and possibly driving a blue or gray minivan.
The woman didn’t sign the card, which included a religious quote. Maniscalco did not want to disclose exact details of the card, so police will know if someone is telling the truth if she claims she sent it.
The trooper said he never met the woman before but would like to get a cup of coffee with her and discuss how she would like the money to be spent.
“I really didn’t have time to say an appropriate thank you,” he said.
Maniscalco said while the New York State Police does not solicit for donations, there are two organizations set to receive donations — the New York State Trooper Foundation and the New York State Signal 30 Fund, which assists law enforcement families in times of need.
Police ask the woman or anyone who knows her to call Troop G headquarters in Latham at 793-3211.
Maniscalco said he appreciated the act of kindness, especially during this holiday season.
“This woman is a hero to me. The fact that she took the time and she didn’t expect anything. She’s not doing this for recognition,” he said.
Though Maniscalco couldn’t remember coming into contact with the woman before, she said she had seen him around town doing his job. He is one of two officers who work in a Guilderland satellite office for the New Scotland barracks, Keeler said.
Maniscalco has been with the state police for six years and patrols Guilderland, Westerlo, Rensselaer, Knox, New Scotland and Altamont.
“It sounded like she had recognized him,” Keeler said. “It sounds like she was specifically targeting him.”
Maniscalco said he makes himself visible in the community.
“I make a point to get out of my car to let people know that I’m here,” he said.
In the meantime, the unusual story attracted nationwide attention after it was released Wednesday, appearing on websites for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Huffington Post.
It’s nearly unheard of for officers to be given cash like this, Keeler said.
“I’ve never heard of anything like that. I’ve been around for 30 years doing this.”