SARATOGA SPRINGS — On his office wall at the Saratoga Springs Police Department, Shane Crooks has a sign with three words: "Honor, Intregity, Respect."
Living up to those words is the essence of being a police officer, said Crooks, a veteran officer who was sworn in Tuesday as the city's police chief.
"I truly believe that as a police officer, you have a special duty to provide service to the community regardless of the circumstances," said Crooks, who has spent 15 years with the city Police Department after starting his career at the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department.
Crooks was named last month by city Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, and was sworn in by Assistant City Attorney Anthony Izzo during a well-attended ceremony at the city Recreation Center, the temporary seat of city government while City Hall is being repaired from an August 2018 lightning strike and flood.
He is the 21st chief for the department, which was established in 1887 and today has 73 officers.
Crooks is the permanent successor to Greg Veitch, who retired as chief in May. Deputy Chief John Catone has been the acting police chief for the last several months, and is expected to stay with the department.
Crooks worked his way up from patrolman to investigator, sergeant, and most recently lieutenant in charge of the patrol division and internal investigations, also overseeing at one point the department's internet sex crimes unit.
"Each opportunity has provided me with a unique experience which makes me the leader I am today," he said.
Crooks said he wants to increase the amount of community policing by the department, which could include such measures as having more foot and bicycle patrols, particularly at times like Halloween.
Martin said the new chief will face challenges including dealing with the city's homeless population and public interactions with them, substance abuse issues, and maintaining security at the city's large-crowd events.
"Substance abuse ebbs and flows, but it never goes away," Martin said.
Ethics will also be important, he said. "You have been a model for other officers and set an example for the police department in our community," Martin said.
Crooks lives in Corinth with his wife and two children, all of whom he thanked for their support and understanding throughout his career.