SCHENECTADY -- The sound of bagpipes cut through a roaring wind, as Schenectady Police Lt. Edward Barbagelata made his final walk out of the police department on Friday.
He ended his more than 20-year police career with several of his fellow officers giving him one last salute.
“It was a tremendous show of support,” Barbagelata said of the ceremony. “I’m very honored. I’m very humbled.”
Barbagelata joined the police department in 1998. He was a member of the department’s Special Operations Squad and served as supervisor of the Sniper Observer Team. He received the 2017 Thomas Constantine Award, which is given to officers who show integrity and professionalism, according to a press release.
At one point, Barbagelata was a finalist to become the next chief of police, following the retirement of former police Chief Brian Kilcullen.
Barbagelata earned the highest score on the civil service exam given ahead of Mayor Gary McCarthy’s selection for the position. Eric Clifford, who earned the third-highest score on the test, was ultimately selected for the post.
Barbagelata also served as the detective lieutenant for the department's Investigative Service Bureau.
Clifford said Barbagelata served his role in the bureau in a way other officers respected. And respect was something Clifford said Barbagelata made sure to give in return.
“He really transformed it from internal affairs, if you will, to a professional standards department,” Clifford said. “Officers understand that, instead of being investigated themselves, things that they did were simply looked into. And a lot of time, training would become a reflection of that investigation, and a lot of times discipline would, and a lot times termination would.”
No matter what the circumstance, though, Clifford said Barbagelata handled each matter with professionalism.
“Everybody knew he didn’t do anything from a personal standpoint,” Clifford said. "It was strictly professional.”
Assistant Police Chief Michael Seber also gave Barbagelata high praise. He said the lieutenant had great work ethic and did his job with integrity. In addition to his other duties, both Seber and Clifford said Barbagelata played a large role in hiring many of the officers who are currently on the force.
“Especially in the hiring practice, he brought such integrity and character to it that he made sure no one ever came before us without the right integrity themselves,” Seber said.
There will be a void left, now that Barbagelata is retiring, Severa said.
“Obviously, someone has to step up and fill that hole,” Seber said. “He left some big shoes to fill, so it will be an adjustment.”
Seber also lauded Barbagelata for his skills on the guitar, saying he will continue to be one of his “groupies.”
Barbagelata said his first love has always been the guitar.
He currently plays in a band called Twenty Ninety-Six, which is made up of firemen and other police officers. They even have gigs coming up at TJ’s Flightline Pub in Glenville on Saturday and at Hunter’s on Jay next week.
While he continues to play music, Barbagelata said he plans to join his friend’s pool service company, while also possibly doing part-time police work.
One person who is happy Barbagelata will have some more free time is his wife, Cindy. She called Friday's ceremony “emotional,” but talked about how proud she was.
“It’s very touching,” she said. “He has a lot of people he cares about, and so many people care about him. And that they showed up to shake his hand and salute him on his way out is very moving.”
Barbagelata said it will be difficult to leave the police department. He said it is one that has seen its ups and downs, but that it is “in fantastic shape now.”
“Everybody comes to this job every day. It’s very very difficult, and it’s not getting any easier, especially in the climate we have, and they just do a fantastic job day in and day out,” Barbagelata said. “So I’ll miss them.”