Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — Even for a police officer, Steven Ritchie has gone through a lot.
In February 2003, the Lockport K-9 police officer was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the leg, while trying to apprehend a murder suspect. According to Police Chief Larry Eggert, he died four times on the way to the hospital, then faced paralysis in his right arm.
Almost 10 years to the day when he beat the odds and returned to full duty at LPD, Ritchie turned in his gun and badge and retired Monday.
"Role model doesn't even begin to cover it," said Eggert, who was also shot on that night in 2003. "The doctor said he should retire then, and he just said, 'Nope, it's not going to happen.' "
Family, friends and police officers from all over the Niagara region came out to 1 Locks Plaza to watch Ritchie, a 29-year veteran of the force, take his final walk out of police headquarters Monday afternoon. Officers from Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Niagara Falls, Ont., shared words of encouragement with Ritchie and shook hands with the man who refused to quit.
Ritchie, 51, said retiring is "bittersweet." He was visibly moved by the sight of all the people who showed up to send him off.
"To see everybody out here was pretty tough," he said. "It's nice to see all of the officers and friends here."
For Ritchie, it was a day to reflect on everything that has happened over the course of his career, which has had its ups and downs. The biggest hurdle, of course, was coming back from being shot.
"I didn't want to allow myself to be defeated, in a way, by that incident," he said. "The doctors were telling me that, no, I wouldn't be able to go back and my right arm was paralyzed. Two years of working hard and having great people around me and I made it back."