Ossining village police Lt. McElroy will be retiring from the Police Department on Jan. 19, after almost 40 years in which local policing has gone through many changes.
When he started in 1973, the police academy for Westchester County recruits was held in the basement of a New Rochelle fire house, McElroy said.
"Since then we have come a long way. Westchester now has its own Academy where I have taught the History of Policing (Criminal Justice System) for over 18 years," he said.
Some of the keynotes in policing during his tenure, McElroy said, were the violence and crime associated with the rise of “Crack” cocaine in the 1980s and the World Trade Center attacks in 1993 and 2001.
McElroy, who made sergeant in 1981 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1987, also served as a domestic violence, mental health, and communicable disease instructor for the department and outside agencies.
He attended the 173th Session of the F.B.I. National Academy in Quantico, VA, a prestigious management oriented school run for local and international police. "I met many colleagues who became friends," he said.
That was the year of the first World Trade Center bombing. In 2001, he served in New York City for post-attack security—which left an indelible impression, he said.
"The most horrific event I witnessed in my police career was the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001," he said. "The sights, sounds and smells of that attack still leave its impressions. It was a time when all New Yorkers and Americans united."
Afterward he was a counter-terrorism instructor and Counter Terrorism Liaison for the Department.
Over the years, he said, his service has allowed him to help the young, the old and just citizens in need of assistance.
"That has been the most rewarding part of my career," he said. "I have participated in homicide investigations, I served as an undercover officer to prosecute a con artist, and have supervised narcotics investigations, arrested burglars and thieves, but helping those who had no place else to turn was the most rewarding."
In parting, McElroy said he wanted to remind everyone that the men and women of the Ossining Police Department are among the very best in law enforcement.
"It has become a cliché, but nonetheless true, that police officers complete the service that many others could not be paid enough to perform. Policing is truly a calling. Officers give up their holidays, weekends, miss family events all to perform a service to the community. They witness people and events at their most horrific," he said. "Nothing could underscore that more than the tragedy that unfolded this past Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School."
McElroy expressed his respect for the work the local and state police, as well as other emergency responders, did at the scene of the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, CT. "Of all the duties an officer is called upon to perform, the most disturbing is the death of a child. It’s very hard to remain poised and professional under such circumstances but that is what an officer must do.
"It has been my pleasure and honor to serve the Police Department and Village of Ossining since June of 1973," said McElroy, who plans to pursue other interests and do some traveling. "I will miss the men and women that I served with in the past and now. I will also miss that service to the community."
"Mac served our department with pride for 39 years," said Ossining village police Chief Joseph Burton. "We wish him all the best in his retirement."