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Lockport Council OKs retirement package for police chief

LOCKPORT – Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert, who is retiring next week, will receive city-paid health insurance for the rest of his life and a onetime cash payment of about $94,000, the Common Council unanimously agreed Wednesday.

The money is for part of the value of his unused sick and vacation days, along with unused holiday pay. Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said Eggert will be paid half the value of his sick time and 70 percent of the value of his unused vacation time.

It’s the same deal that former Fire Chief Thomas J. Passuite received when he retired last year, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said. He amended the resolution the Council passed to state that specifically.

Eggert, 58, is allowed to stretch out the payments over three years, according to Mary Pat Holz, city civil service secretary. Eggert said he will do exactly that, in order to give the city a financial break.

“The city’s been good to me. They paid for me raising my family,” said Eggert, who has been chief for eight years and a city police officer for 36 years.

The health insurance will kick in immediately. Eggert is retiring to take a private-sector security consultant position in Buffalo. “Private consultants don’t get health insurance,” he said.

Passuite was paid $95,141 for his unused sick and vacation time. Neither chief received payments for any compensatory time, Ottaviano said.

Traffic Capt. Michael F. Niethe, 58, will succeed Eggert as chief after the latter has a departure ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Niethe, a 33-year veteran of the Lockport force, will be paid a base salary of $94,200 a year. That’s more than his captain’s pay this year of $87,962, but less than the $96,398 Eggert was paid.

The Police Board interviewed Niethe for two hours Monday and approved his appointment, although the only other eligible officer, Detective Capt. Brian W. Wentland, withdrew his name before being interviewed.

Niethe said, “I’m humbled by the whole thing. It’s a lot of responsibility. It’ll be a challenge. (Eggert) has left some big shoes to fill.”

Eggert said he promoted Niethe to traffic captain right after he became chief. “I knew what his work ethic was like. Very loyal guy, very hardworking guy,” Eggert said.

Niethe is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and also has served as a patrol captain and an instructor in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program.