Saratoga Springs Police Chief Christopher Cole announced Wednesday he plans to retire from his $102,000 per year position in late May.
Cole, 48, has been with the Saratoga Springs Police Department for 23 years, rising through the ranks to the top cop job.
Cole said he had made up his mind in recent months to pursue “something different” while he was still young enough.
“He deserves a ton of credit for what he has done with that department during difficult times,” said city Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen.
Mathiesen said that Chief Cole was able to manage his department and keep an appropriate number of patrols on the streets despite major staffing cutbacks in 2009 and the following years.
“He’s managed those changes very well,” Mathiesen said. The department was reduced from 72 officers to 65 because of a city budget crisis in 2009. The department is still down five officers, in addition to the retirements of administrative personnel and injuries.
Mathiesen said Assistant Chief Gregory Veitch is his “number one choice” to replace Cole but this decision has not been finalized.
Veitch, 39, was promoted in late 2011 to assistant chief after being the department spokesman and head of the department’s investigations unit for several years.
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the department that has literally been a part of my life since I was a child,” Cole said in a statement released Wednesday evening.
“Saratoga has seen many changes over the years but one thing that has remained constant is the dedication of the men and women who have chosen law enforcement as their chosen profession,” he said.
“Our citizens should be extremely proud of the work our police officers do on a daily basis — much of it unseen or unheard and always unsung. Their efforts ensure that Saratoga Springs will continue to thrive as both a vibrant and safe community as well as a national travel destination,” he said.
“Although my retirement closes the door on this chapter of my career, other doors are opening. I have decided that I would like to pursue those other new opportunities while I am still young and energetic,” he said.
Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said Cole “has done a lot for the police department through some very difficult budgetary times.”
“He has been here his whole career. I’m sure it’s a very difficult decision. I will certainly miss him at the DA’s office,” Murphy said in an e-mail.
Cole suffered an embarrassing incident in 2011 when he admitted sending sexually explicit text messages and photos of himself to a Glenville woman while in his office in Saratoga Springs City Hall.
He was suspended one month without pay by then Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth and was placed on three years probation.
Wirth said in June of 2011 that he didn’t fire Cole because of his “unblemished record” with the police department for more than 20 years.
Cole said at that time that he had an “intermittent” relationship with a 39-year-old unmarried mother of two whom he met on a dating website in 2010. Cole had been legally separated from his wife for more than three years in 2010.