Peter Vroman retired for a grand total of five days.
“It hasn’t given me a lot of time to sit on the couch,” he said.
On Sunday, the Canajoharie resident retired from a 28-year career as a deputy U.S. marshal. On Friday, he’ll step in as Montgomery County’s new undersheriff, a position left open recently when department veteran Jeff Smith retired for a new job as county emergency management director.
“It will take a little while to get Pete schooled to Jeff’s level,” said Sheriff Michael Amato, “Jeff was here for 25 years, but Pete learns really fast.”
Amato announced Vroman as the new undersheriff Tuesday. While Vroman’s work in the U.S. Marshals Service and his new job are both law enforcement, he said the move marks a pretty dramatic career shift.
“That’s the thing about the marshals,” Vroman said. “No one is really sure what we do.”
He described decades spent seizing ocean-going ships, breaking up bootleg media rings and pursuing fugitives. In 2010, he even made a run at becoming U.S. marshal for the Northern District of New York, a presidential appointment. But President Obama gave the job to someone else, despite a glowing recommendation from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
A sizable amount of Vroman’s career was spent managing the transportation of federal prisoners to county jails across New York state, which is how he met Amato.
In all, Vroman said it was one of the most interesting jobs he could have had. He likely will not be seizing ships as undersheriff.
“It’s hard to disconnect from the marshals after 28 years,” he said, “but I’m not young anymore.”
It’s not that he feels old; he’s just tired of driving. For the past 18 years, Vroman raised six children with his wife, Laurie, in Canajoharie. He always tried to make it home at night, but he worked a 32-county area.
“At times I’d be gone for 21 days at a stretch on special assignments,” he said, adding that he has a 5-year-old at home.
So when Amato, a longtime friend and colleague, called about Smith’s retirement, Vroman jumped at the chance to cut his range to a single county.
Amato said Vroman will help manage every aspect of the department, including the jail. With Vroman’s knowledge of the workings of so many jails, Amato said he hopes to make some improvements.
“He dealt with jails in 32 counties,” Amato said. “Some of them have to be doing it better than us.”
Vroman started his career in law enforcement in 1982 as a patrolman in Essex, Vt., later moving to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department before ending up with the U.S. Marshals Service.
He said he’ll bring a total of 32 years of local and statewide experience to Montgomery County.
“I don’t think my car will even have time to heat up from Canajoharie to Fonda,” he said, “but I’m looking forward to concentrating on one county, and not driving an hour and a half to see my kids at night.”
The undersheriff is paid an annual salary of $70,745, according to the county’s 2014 adopted budget.