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Making a transition from police work

LEWISTON – Police Chief Christopher P. Salada never planned to be a police officer and even started out his career as a diesel mechanic.

But one ride-along with his brother John, a former Lewiston police officer and retired sheriff’s deputy, and he was “hooked.”

Fast-forward 25 years and Salada, 46, has announced his own plans to retire and move on to the private sector. He said that what he will miss most is patrolling the streets of Lewiston. He had served in a dual role as Youngstown police chief, retiring from that post in March.

“I had put in 16 years with Youngstown. It was time. I’ve been here in Lewiston for 25 years. I’ve been chief for eight years,” Salada said. It was hard to move on from the department, which serves both the town and village, Salada said, but he had been looking at a move into the private sector where he can still work in an investigative role.

“I love the police field, but as I’ve progressed into management, it’s become less fun,” he said. “I really loved being on the road. Being the chief has also become political.”

His predecessor, Lewiston Councilman Ronald R. Winkley, 56, who served on the Lewiston police force for 26 years and 23 as its chief, also will move on at the end of this year when his term ends. He has been in public service for 34 years, serving for five years as a councilman and prior to that as a trustee on the Village Board after he left the police force in 2007.

“I enjoy Lewiston and working for the people,” Winkley said. “I liked being chief a lot better. When you are in law enforcement, your goal is to help people the best you can. It’s the same in politics, but you never make anybody happy.”

Winkley, who has been teaching criminal justice at Niagara University since 2007, said he will continue to teach, which he said he loves. He said he will enjoy taking the extra time to spend with his grown children, ages 29 and 26, who still live in the area, as well as take some time to travel with his wife.

“Chris did a good job with the Lewiston Police Department, and he was well-respected by other police agencies,” Winkley said.

In accepting Salada’s retirement, the Town Board on Monday praised and congratulated him. “He’s been a wonderful person to work with,” Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey said after the board meeting. “He always kept me informed and on top of what was going on.”

Several board members asked when he might get into politics. Salada, like a good politician, just smiled and remained mum.

But Salada, whose wife, Amy, serves as the Village of Lewiston clerk, told The Buffalo News he has no intention of getting into politics, noting that it was like “jumping from the pot into the fire,” but he did qualify his answer by saying, “At least right now. I want to focus on something else.”

At present, he said, he wants to spend more time with his wife and their children, ages 28 and 15.

“Amy is very happy I made the transition. No more phone calls in the middle of the night,” Salada said.

And no more danger.

“Even though I am chief in a small community, danger and crime are everywhere. No community is immune to that. There is always that potential for getting injured,” he said.

Of his plan to leave, Salada said, “I’m a little nervous. I will miss the guys. We are like a family. But I won’t miss the community, because we are going to stay here.”

He said that as a resident, without the duties of a police chief, he will be able to take advantage of the flourishing community. “It will be nice to attend all these events, rather than be responsible for the safety of the people who attend them,” Salada said. “I really like coordinating everything, but it’s time for somebody else to do all that stuff now.”

No one has been named to take Salada’s role, but Lewiston Police Sgt. Frank J. Previte, who often fills in as a liaison to both the Town and Village boards when Salada is unavailable, is the likely person to be named to succeed Salada. Previte served as second-in-command under both Winkley and Salada.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com