OPD Chief DeCaire to step down in January

Oswego Police Chief Tory DeCaire, seen above taking his oath of office in May 2011, will retire in January after a 22-year career on the force.

OSWEGO — Oswego Police Chief Tory L. DeCaire on Monday announced his retirement, putting an ending date on a more than two-decade career in law enforcement and eight-year reign as the Port City’s top cop.

His retirement effective in January, DeCaire rose through the ranks from a patrol officer to be appointed police chief by Mayor Randy Bateman in May 2011. DeCaire is the 20th chief of police in Oswego Police Department (OPD) history and the longest serving chief since Floyd Kunwiler retired in 1987, city officials said.

“It has been an honor to serve the community throughout my career as a line officer, supervisor, member of the command staff and certainly as chief of police,” DeCaire said in an email Monday. “I will cherish the memories made, the people I've met, and the experiences I have had over the years that will only serve to help prepare me for any future endeavors that I may choose to undertake.”

DeCaire thanked the city of Oswego and said having spent his entire career working to improve the community, he plans to continue working toward that goal as he embarks on a new path.

Mayor Billy Barlow congratulated DeCaire on his 22 years of service, saying it was a “privilege” to work with the chief on a number of city programs, including resurrecting the DARE and school resource officer programs and various other initiatives geared toward community policing and improving the quality of life for Oswego citizens.

"I am extremely grateful for Chief DeCaire's service,” Barlow said. “The Oswego Police Department has been a major component to Oswego's recent renaissance and under Chief DeCaire's leadership, the police department has aided our code enforcement efforts, focused on community policing and conducted special initiatives to ensure the safety of all Oswego residents.”

The Port City saw an overall reduction in crimes during DeCaire’s tenure, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services statistics. The city’s crime index. commonly used to gauge and compare overall crime volume, fell 35 percent from 2011 to 2018.

DeCaire credits a focus on community policing, in addition to the hard work and dedication of the sworn and civilian personnel of the department, as one of many reasons that the city has witnessed a drop in crime since he took the helm.

Policing, as well as society, has changed dramatically over the past two decades, said DeCaire, who was first hired in January 1998. DeCaire said the willingness of OPD officers to change and adapt with the times has been crucial to OPD’s success in the community.

“I am beyond proud of the job that the women and men who call OPD home have done over the years,” DeCaire said. “I am forever grateful for their efforts."

DeCaire said he never intended to stay on as chief past 20 years, but upon hearing of Barlow’s “robust agenda to drive Oswego forward,” he decided to remain in the position through the mayor’s first term to allow Barlow to focus on other improvements and projects.

“Now, with the mayor preparing to begin his second term, and with some the extraordinary achievements already in place and many more in the works, I saw this as my opportunity to focus on my future endeavors,” DeCaire said. “I look forward to seeing the progression of Oswego's revitalization as well as the continuation of the excellent and professional police service that our community has come to expect and deserves."

DeCaire said this summer he would hopefully be able to enjoy the Harborfest fireworks with his family for the very first time — duty has pulled him away in previous years.

Barlow said DeCaire “always pushed for a more efficient, effective department” by reducing overtime costs, implementing innovative changes and consistently finding ways to improve service to the public.  

The Oswego police chief is appointed by the mayor and oversees a staff of roughly 50 full-time sworn officers, in addition to another 25 positions that include civilian staff and part-time crossing guards.

Barlow said the city would have an announcement on the next police chief “in short order,” adding he’s considered candidates both inside and outside the department. The mayor said he would appoint a chief who he thinking will be “firm and aggressive in combating drugs and crime in the community, while complementing (the city’s) neighborhood revitalization efforts and focusing on community policing strategies.”

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