FULTON — When Craig Westbrook first got into law enforcement, his goal was to become a sergeant.
After graduating college, Westbrook joined the Fulton Police Department in 2001, and held just about every position in the department. He was an investigator, a K-9 handler, a sergeant and deputy chief.
On Thursday, Westbrook was sworn in as the new chief of the Fulton Police Department. His first official day in his new position is Saturday.
“When I first started in 2001 I didn’t think I’d be chief of police one day. … I remember when I was new here my goal was just to become a sergeant before I retired,” Westbrook said.
Originally from Central Square, Westbrook studied criminal justice at Onondaga Community College and public justice at SUNY Oswego. After graduating in 2000, he joined the Fulton Police Department.
Westbrook became an investigator in 2007 and was a part of the criminal investigation department for about a year before moving on as a sergeant.
In 2009 Westbrook became one of the department’s K-9 handlers, a position he always wanted to have. He was then a sergeant with a dog from 2008 to 2014.
“I was lucky enough to come back into a uniformed position to keep the dog (Rika), and I kept her until her retirement in 2013,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook became a lieutenant after that and was promoted to deputy chief in 2017.
After current chief Orlo Green III indicated he would retire, Westbrook was the unanimous choice by the city Fire and Police Commission and was hired after the city eased the residency requirement for the position last week. Westbrook resides in the town of Volney.
“He’s a very knowledgeable guy, a hard worker,” Green said of his successor. “He’s worked his way up through the department and held every rank. He’s done all the right things to prepare himself. I think he’s going to do an outstanding job.”
The outgoing chief said he believed Westbrook was prepared and capable of taking on the tough challenges of the job on day one.
“I tried to do my best to prepare him for some of the changes that come with being chief. It’s a whole different role, leading the department and the public relations side,” Green said. “It’s a whole different thing. I think (the transition) has gone well and he’s ready.”
While he has continued to perform his usual duties as deputy chief over the last few weeks, Westbrook, along with Green, have met with community leaders to make for a smooth transition.
After getting acclimated to his new position, Westbrook’s agenda begins with becoming more proactive.
“The first thing I think is to get a solid footing, to learn and adjust to all of the responsibilities as chief,” Westbrook said. “After that, I want to have more of a visual presence. … The job can be paperwork intensive, and often times that pulls officers from the street and the public eye, and I think a big part of addressing criminal activity is being visible.”
Now at the helm of the police department, Westbrook’s career has gone higher up in the ranks than he expected almost two decades ago.
“I guess I’ve exceeded the goal of where I wanted to be,” Westbrook said. “I never thought this would be my final position in the police department.”