Saratoga Springs assistant police chief retiring

Assistant Chief Michael Biss, who retires Friday after 36 years with the city Police Department, use

Assistant Chief Michael Biss, who retires Friday after 36 years with the city Police Department, used police call boxes then located along Broadway and other streets when on foot patrol in the mid-1970s.

“Walking officers didn’t have radios,” Biss said about time he started as a patrolman in 1975. The old-fashioned call boxes were removed some years ago.

Biss, 56, who has been assistant chief since 2009, worked his way up in the department while also serving in the Army National Guard, including a year of active duty in Afghanistan in 2007-08.

“He’s got the leadership skills,” said Police Chief Christopher Cole about what makes Biss such an effective police officer. Cole said he learned a lot of these skills while serving as an officer in the National Guard. Biss retired as a major.

“He is really connected with the men and women here,” Cole said. “He deals with the officers as individuals.”

From 2003 until 2009, Biss was a captain in charge of the patrol and traffic divisions.

As assistant chief, Biss oversees the detective, patrol and traffic divisions as well as manages the entire departmental budget, including overtime requirements for the 65-officer department and 10-person civilian staff.

Cole wants the assistant police chief position filled rather than being eliminated for budgetary reasons. Last fall, there was discussion about reducing the department’s administrative staff by not funding a captain’s position, but this never became a reality.

Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth said he hasn’t made a final decision on the matter.

“I’m still reviewing it,” Wirth said on Monday. “I have made no decision on whether or not I’m going to fill that position.”

Wirth praised Biss’ dedication to the Police Department.

“I have a great deal of respect for him,” Wirth said about Biss. “He will be a tremendous loss to our department. He came up through the ranks.”

Cole said there are currently three members of the department on the civil service list for promotion to assistant chief. These include Capt. Michael Chowske, Lt. Gregory Veitch and Lt. Linda Quattrini.

Biss is paid a salary of $84,299. He is not entitled to overtime as an administrative officer, Cole said.

Biss plans to keep busy when he leaves the department at the end of the week.

“I’m thinking about opening a business,” Biss said.

He and his brother inherited a farm in Wilton from their grandfather and father. He said some type of food concession associated with the farm is in the early planning stages.

He also wants to spend more time with his five grandchildren. Biss and his wife of 36 years, Donna, have two grown children, Mike and Tanika.

Biss served in the Army infantry as an enlisted man in Germany from 1972 until 1974. He joined the Army National Guard when he got back home and attended officer candidate school.

In 2007, he answered a call for volunteers and went to Afghanistan where he helped train that country’s police force. He served in Kabul with the Army’s Combined Security Transition Command.

“We have a great department here,” Biss said. “I think we serve the public well.”

He said he’s proud of the training the officers receive and will miss his fellow officers.

“I won’t miss the budgets,” Biss joked about budget discussions.

Categories: Schenectady County

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