Michael Zurlo received a standing ovation from a crowd of several hundred Sunday as he was sworn in as Saratoga County sheriff.
Zurlo succeeds fellow Republican James Bowen, the longest-tenured sheriff in New York state, who is retiring after 41 years in office. Zurlo’s term will begin Jan. 1.
“I have very big shoes to fill, but I learned from one of the best,” Zurlo said of his predecessor, who was not present at the ceremony. “Thank you, sheriff. You depart the department leaving the office in good hands.”
A lifelong resident of Saratoga County and a graduate of Mechanicville High School, Zurlo joined the Mechanicville Police Department in 1974 and went on to work in the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, where he served for more than 30 years as a deputy, sergeant, senior criminal investigator and lieutenant.
After retiring from the department in December 2010, he became Stillwater town judge, but stepped down earlier this year to pursue the post of Saratoga County sheriff.
Zurlo was sworn in Sunday at Mechanicville High School by State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Nolan.
“I practiced law in Mechanicville from time to time and when one of my clients had been arrested by Mr. Zurlo, my observations then, and they do continue today, were that when Mike needed to be tough, he was tough, but he didn’t need to be tough all the time. He’s got backbone and he’s got heart and above all, he has integrity, and these qualities will serve us well during his tenure,” Nolan said.
Zurlo said he intends to build on Bowen’s successes in the sheriff’s office, which had a staff of just 20 when Zurlo started working there and now employs more than 200.
“The campaign has stopped and we have now set our sights on working around the clock to keep Saratoga County a safe place to live, work and raise a family,” Zurlo told the crowd.
He thanked those gathered for their support and assured them his door is always open and his phone is always on.
Zurlo said his overall goal as sheriff is community safety.
“It’s got one of the lowest crime rates in New York state, Saratoga County, so I want to make sure we keep it that way as we move forward,” he told reporters after the ceremony.
One priority will be to expand the department’s online presence with an up-to-date website, a Facebook page and Twitter account, to help keep the community informed, he said.
Zurlo has named Kevin Mullahey as undersheriff. He started his career with the Waterford Police Department in 1978 and has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.
In his new position, Mullahey will oversee the county correctional facility, the civil department and the investigative unit.