Posted at: 04/24/2013 6:26 PM
Updated at: 04/24/2013 7:32 PM
By: Mark Mulholland
SARATOGA SPRINGS - To say Chris Cole grew up with the Saratoga Springs Police Department is not an exaggeration.
Now 48, Cole started as a dispatcher and part-time patrol officer in 1989, was promoted to sergeant in 1996 and then lieutenant in 2003.
Cole was named assistant chief in 2006 and then was promoted to top cop three years later.
In all, he's been with the department for more than 23 years as a paid employee. But his tenure began far before that. Cole says he spent time in and around the station where his father was a police officer for 30 years and eventually assistant chief.
So the chief said Wednesday afternoon, his decision to retire wasn't easy.
"The police department has really been my life since I was a child. But it's come to a point I'm young enough where I think I could have another full career in front of me. And I think the timing is right to do that," he said.
"I've loved my time here in the department," Cole said. "I've worked with some great men and women over the years."
The chief says when he retires at the end of May, he'll be leaving the department in good shape, having overcome the fiscal crisis and layoffs the city faced when he was first appointed.
"23-years shows an awful lot of dedication. Not only to the city here, but to the police department itself," said Assistant Chief Greg Veitch, Cole's likely successor.
Cole's boss, Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen, says Cole's legacy shouldn't be marred by his 2011 suspension for sending racy text messages to a woman he was dating, while on duty.
"His knowledge of this department, his knowledge of this city is something that is so important," said Mathiesen. "He's done so much to make sure our city remains a safe place to be."
Mathiesen said Wednesday that Veitch is his "number one pick" to be the next chief.
Veitch had been mentioned in recent weeks as a likely candidate for Saratoga County Sheriff. It appears that Cole's retirement will keep Veitch in Saratoga Springs, giving former sheriff's investigator Michael Zurlo an apparent clear path to the Republican nomination for county sheriff.