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March 29, 2013

 

Homer police chief retiring

Daniel Mack has worked for the village department 27 years

PoliceBob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Police Chief Dan Mack is retiring after 27 years with the department.

By MARK FERDINAND
Staff Reporter
mferdinand@cortlandstandardnews.net

HOMER — After 27 years with the police department, village Police Chief Daniel Mack is retiring from his post after this week.
Mack said he will be taking a much needed break before moving on to other things, but will still live in the area and help at the police department when needed.
Mack, 51, began his career as an officer in Homer in 1986 and was promoted to sergeant in 1992. He took over the top spot when then-Chief David Sampson retired in 1999. While he qualified for a comfortable retirement after he hit the 20-year mark, Mack stayed on seven more to help the force and village, which he calls his “extended family.”
“I’m looking forward to relaxing a little bit, and looking for something else to do,” said Mack. He said he is looking into a position in the Department of Homeland Security or a similar office, doing part-time work.
“The police department is in great shape and the guys here are highly qualified,” Mack said. “I went over things with them and they’ll be fine.”
The position’s salary is $65,000 per year. Mack will retain 50 percent of that as pension.
Mack has overseen the department as it grew and developed significantly over his nearly 30 years there, and was responsible for a catalogue of improvements.
During his tenure as chief, Homer went from a part-time to a full-time police department by adding an overnight shift and more part-time officers.
When he started, Mack said the department had two full-time and three part-time officers. With his departure, it still only has three full-timers, but it is up to about 10 part-timers, including three crossing guards and a clerk.
The department also switched offices from the current Village Hall on South Main Street to a more spacious building at 43 1/2 James St., once a 19th century railroad depot.
Mack also oversaw the addition of three more police cars to the force (there are now four), shotguns and Tasers.
“Before I took over. we couldn’t even carry night sticks,” Mack said.
He also saw that his officers were better trained and expanded the department’s services to the community.
Cpl. Roland Eckard became a field training officer and police instructor qualified to train others in the field.
Patrolman Christopher Parrow serves as a firearms instructor and Patrolman Michael Howell is the school resource officer for the Homer Central School District. Mack saw that these officers got the training required to be qualified for these position.
“He gets the whole picture and did a real good job,” said Eckard. “He has the faith of the officers.”
Eckard, who served with Mack for the past six years, said his colleague was due for some rest.
Sgt. David VanOrden will serve as the officer in charge until the Village Board selects a replacement. Mack said he has recommended VanOrden for the job.
“I’m going to miss him; I’ve enjoyed working with him,” said VanOrden, who has served with Mack for 23 years and picked him to be the best man at his wedding. “He’s put in a lot of years and done an excellent job.”
VanOrden said staying fully staffed has always been the biggest challenge, as losing even one officer represents a quarter of their full-time core. Taking vacations or days off has always been difficult, he said.
With no individual departments, Homer officers are responsible for road patrol, criminal investigation and all other police duties. Mack is accomplished in all of them, said Eckard.
“The village is going to be losing someone who has dedicated a lot of time to this village at his own expense,” he said. “There’s very few things he’d ask an officer to do that he wouldn’t do himself.”
Eckard grew up in Homer and knew Mack as an officer when he was just a boy. He has since grown to know him as a colleague and a friend.
“He chased me around when I was a kid, and now we chase people around together,” Eckard said.

 

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