PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – The Peekskill Common Council took time before its Thursday night meeting to honor the city's police and fire chiefs before they step down next week.
The council recognized Peekskill Police Chief Eugene Tumolo and Peekskill Fire Department Chief Leonard "Lenny" Varella Jr. for their years of service to the city.
Tumolo joined the Peekskill Police Department 44 years ago and became chief in 1994. The city has come a long way since then, he said.
"When I was sworn in it was during a riot and there were officers in the street," Tumolo recalled. "And we've come from that to a time when other communities are faltering and this community is on its way upward and in a renaissance, and it was very important to me to be a part of that"
Tumolo thanked the city leaders who had held office over the decades and his force for its unwavering support.
Tumolo also served as the president of the New York State Association of Police Chiefs and the Westchester County Police Chiefs Association, among other agencies, Mayor Mary Foster said.
"It's not just that Gene dedicated himself to the city, but he dedicated himself to policing and criminal justice and trying to create the best practices to our department, and we very much appreciate that and I know you'll be missed by not only us but all the groups you worked so hard with," Foster said.
While Varella, a lifelong city resident, isn't retiring from the fire department, he will become a deputy chief with far fewer responsibilities. After 36 years in the department, and the last nine years in the department leadership, that will likely be a welcome change.
"Becoming a chief is a nine-year commitment, which is a huge commitment for any individual, and it's a volunteer position," said Foster. "You do it out of love for your community and love for the fire department."
Varella thanked the city officials and his family for their support and said the department would continue to be well run.
"Bob (Fiorio) is gonna be the new chief, Vinny (Malaspina) is gonna be the first assistant chief and John Rose is gonna be the second assistant," Varella said. "The city is in great hands. There are three capable individuals who know the job and they will be a great asset to the fire department."