Officer "Ron" reflects on 30 years in Falls law enforcement

Photo by RobShotsSAYING SO LONG - Veteran Niagara Falls police officer Ron Cirrito called it a career on Friday after three decades on the beat. 

Everywhere he went in the Falls, somebody seemed to know him.

And folks on the streets did more than just nod or smile at Falls Police Lt. Ron Cirrito. They would yell his name, shake his hand, hug him and, if they were in trouble, they would inevitably ask, "Is Cirrito working?"

"I know a lot of people," Cirrito said with a hearty laugh on Friday afternoon. "And yeah, folks would ask for 'Ron' to come to the call if they were in trouble."

Knowing your community and how to protect and serve it have been guiding principals for Cirrito in three decades of police wok. 

"It's probably the most critical thing (a young officer) can learn," Cirrito said. "You treat everybody the way you want to be treated and remember that everybody deserves some respect."

He's hoping now those lessons will linger with the cops he's trained and supervised in his decades on the force, because Cirrito's days on the street ended Friday with his retirement. It was a bittersweet moment.

"I got a little emotional (filing out his final end of tour paperwork)," he said. "It felt weird."

Even officers in the ready room couldn't believe they were watching Cirrito cleaning out his locker.

"They were saying, 'You can't be leaving' and I said, 'I'm done. I turned in my gun. I'm done,'" Cirrito said. 

It will mark the first time in 50 years that a Cirrito will not be roaming the halls of Falls Police headquarters. His father, Al, was a Falls cop from 1970 until his retirement in 2002. His mom, Elaine Abersold, was a Falls police jail matron and worked part-time for the New York State Park Police.

Even his stepfather spent 35 years in law enforcement, retiring from the Park Police. 

"Law enforcement runs deep in our family," Cirrito said.

And it won't stop, even with his retirement. Two brothers and a son are correction officers with the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, while a daughter serves as a juvenile probation officer. 

"I grew up around cops my whole life," Cirrito recalled. "Originally, I was going to be a lawyer. But then I took the (police civil service) test and I have no complaints."

Quick to laugh and smile, Cirrito said he didn't step away because he was "tired of the job."

"I've got a grandson and I really want to spend time with him, maybe making up for time I missed with my own kids," he said. "I've got mixed emotions. Everybody tells you, you'll know when it's time to go and I knew it was time."

In 30 years, Cirrito was a patrol officer, a patrol lieutenant, the Community Relations Division lieutenant, command lieutenant for the department's Office of Professional Standards, a training officer and instructor at the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy and the Falls Police hostage negotiator.

As he was piped out of police headquarters on Friday afternoon, his path was lined by the men and women he trained.

"A lot of the guys I trained over the years, they were there," he said fondly. "Now they've moved up and they're detectives and lieutenants and captains and I'm pretty happy about that."

Reflecting on 30 years that have seen generation change in policing, Cirrito noted that those changes have made the training he championed crucially important.

"We've had to train. We've had to progress. You have to be aware these days that everything (you do) is going to be recorded," he said. "But (cameras) save you more than they hurt you."

On the down side, Cirrito said relations with residents have sometimes become strained. 

"I give our guys a lot of credit," he said. "Sometimes, it's just horrible, the disrespect they get, the not caring from people, the lack of a sense of consequences."

 

Yet, not being out on the Cataract City streets, interacting with residents, is what Cirrito says he'll miss most in retirement.

"I'll miss being out there," he said. "You gotta connect on that human level."

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