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Chief Ron Petrie gets some of his paperwork in order as he spends one of his last days in the office.
by Dave Warner
Police Chief Ron Petrie has turned in his retirement paperwork and is set to retire on July 28th. He was initially the acting Chief of Police from January of 2019, then officially appointed as the Chief in May, taking over right after Chief Masi retired.
He said that the last year hasn’t been much different than his time of being Chief of Police in Frankfort. “We have a little more manpower, a bigger agency, and jurisdiction, but the same problems. Manpower issues, drug problems, and the opioid crisis.”
Petrie said that it has been something that has been on his mind even as early as when he was appointed. “I knew that the City needed somebody that had the background, somebody who had the knowledge of the agency and I’ve done it for a year here and overall more than ten years.”
He said that there just weren’t any personal goals left to achieve, or things left that he wanted to accomplish. “I’ve been the head of three different police departments and I think I’ve left them in better positions than when I acquired them.”
“Taking over this agency was much easier than the last two that I ran, but I think I made some improvements in the last year that I can hang my hat on and say that they were good improvements, good choices,” he stated.
Petrie said that changing the records management system was an important change, both cost, and functionality-wise. “The changes in our IT over the last year definitely put us in a better position than we were a couple of years ago,” he said.
He said that they now have an outside IT company that is available 24 hours a day, and they can just log in remotely and fix any issue immediately.
“All the cars can access anything in the station, so they’re absolutely mobile offices at this point. I think that was a good move.”
He also wanted to keep the police academy going on a semi-annual basis and has been able to do that as well. Keeping the academy in Little Falls means that officers can get updated training at no cost, the City makes money off the officers from out of the City that attend and local officers that are instructors are able to keep up with the latest training.
“One of the fears I have is that people are going to think I have decided to escape the current tumultuous issues that are going on nationally, and that’s just not true. I made this decision long before the George Floyd incident. But, having lived through that and seen what’s gone on in the last six to eight weeks, I know I made the right decision,” he stated.
He said that one thing that is depressing to him is that he has yet to see one politician at any level come out and back the police department. “To me, that’s a slap in every law enforcement officer’s face. The only elected officials doing that are the sheriff’s themselves,” he stated.
“There are always going to be injustices. This is not a perfect system, but medical care is not perfect, education isn’t. There is no perfect system in the world, so to single law enforcement out the last couple of months without one message of support from a political figure has been disheartening,” said Petrie.
Locally, the Chief said that within a week of the George Floyd incident, there were different incidents within the City that when they showed up, people shouted ‘don’t kill me, don’t shoot me’.
“If we end up arresting somebody, they immediately start yelling as they are walking to the car ‘I can’t breathe, don’t put me in the car, I can’t breathe’. It’s thrown in our face and we’re lumped into things that we had no part of. A police officer in Minnesota has nothing to do with a police officer in Little Falls New York.”
He went on to say that he has not seen one law enforcement officer step forward and say that what happened to George Floyd was justified.
Petrie stated that Councilman Delvin J. Moody from Utica, who spoke at the Black Lives Matter Educational rally on June 21st will be speaking to the police academy class that is currently in session. “In my opinion, he gave the best speech of that day,” he stated.
The Chief said that the one thing that has shocked him in his 23 years of law enforcement is the change from the complete outpouring of support for the police, military, and first responders that happened after 9/11 to the situation they are facing today.
“People now don’t respect the flag enough to stand for it. You can come up with an excuse as to why you can disrespect the flag and nationally, and politically it’s accepted. To me, disrespecting the flag is disrespecting the country,” stated Petrie.
As to what he is going to do after retirement, he says that he’s had some calls, but really hasn’t thought about it. “My intent is to get out of law enforcement totally.”
His official retirement date is July 28, 2020, but he has offered to stay on until the City finds his replacement. He said, “One thing I would love to stay involved with is the academy, teaching the new officers and making sure they’re trained the right way.”
“The days of getting into a police car and roaming the streets? I’m over that,” he said.