Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls has been blessed to have had great leaders in public safety during our history. Former Fire Chief William MacKay and Police Chief Ernie Palmer are among the ones remembered for being "people-ticians" rather than politicians.
Shortly, we will lose another to retirement after 40-plus years of dedicated, 24/7 public service. Our police Chief John Chella, respected throughout police ranks of New York state, hangs up his badge but not his sterling reputation as a "leader of leaders." On behalf of our community block clubs, we send him a deep sense of sincere gratitude for his devotion, dedication to superior leadership, especially during these tough economic times.
A bad economy, mirrored by high unemployment, lack of jobs, poverty, struggling financial times, broken homes and recognized social crisis oftentimes brings out the worst criminal behavior in people. It's difficult to fathom anyone capable of harnessing the energy and ability to handle the multi-faceted crime problems Niagara Falls has faced. Through all the past several years of increasing higher criminal activity than the norm, the NFPD has sustained high professionalism, accomplished great police investigations, maintained work ethics and a fighting force second to no one in New York state. The reason is a leader named Chief John Chella, whose command these past nine years will be remembered as one of the top ones, if not the top.
He has not only been a public servant, but one who listens and has an intense compassion for protecting the public. He has responded to our block club member requests through action, not just words or promises. This has resulted in safer neighborhoods through drug seizures, multiple arrests and gang members going to jail.
Indeed, he has "walked the walk" not just "talked the talk." He taught us that respect is earned, not a given. He is a hands-on individual, who led by developing comprehensive, complex strategies, action and follow-up. Chella's expectations of his men led to consistent, professional improvement, respect for everyone in the public and finding solutions in the crime prevention, rather than reacting to crime, which by then is too late. He demonstrated his ability by working behind his fatigue level often in 12- to 16-hour workdays and 70 hour work weeks. Yes, we in Niagara Falls are the better for it.