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John N. Cardarelli's decade-long tenure at the helm of Erie County's Department of Central Police Services has been a tireless mission to provide local police the technological tools they need to enforce the law and make the county a safer place to live.

Now, satisfied that his accomplishments have meant something after nearly a third of a century in law enforcement, "the fire in my belly is gone," Cardarelli says.

"After 32 years, it gets a little tiring," said the commissioner, who plans to retire Sept. 18.

Cardarelli, 57, of Eden, joined the county June 6, 1988, and has since dramatically enhanced law enforcement operations countywide, his peers say.

"For us, he's been very cooperative," says Town of Evans Police Chief Robert Ferguson. "A lot of the equipment and technology from CPS have been very helpful to us."

Most recently, Ferguson pointed out, Central Police Services helped put computers in police cars.

"We had to pay for the computers, but they set up the hub to make the system a reality. It's been a big advantage. It means more safety for my officers and more safety for the public," Ferguson said.

Kenmore Police Chief Elmer A. Arnet Jr. said, "We've certainly made increased moves forward under John's stewardship."

"The computerization, radio equipment, tape-logging equipment and the academy has been put up on a par with any of them. With all of these missions, he has certainly brought things up to speed."

Cardarelli's roots are in local policing. He began as a patrolman in Cheektowaga in 1967 and moved on to begin a new police department in Eden as chief of a one-man force in 1973. He served there for 15 years before joining the county and heading a department of more than 80 members.

An enhanced 911 system, an internationally recognized forensics laboratory, an improved police academy training center, fingerprinting identification and a forthcoming satellite-driven patrol car tracking system are several of the accomplishments Cardarelli points to with pride.

"I feel very good about the things we've done -- we've brought all the police departments up to speed technology-wise. They have been given the tools and the best training they can get from the academy," Cardarelli says.

His boss agrees.

"John has done a great job over the past 10 years in working with local police forces and the district attorney's office to make our community a safer place to live," says County Executive Gorski.

"Under his leadership, we've added the state-of-the-art automated fingerprinting system and a DNA lab to our crime lab, which has been acknowledged as one of the best in the country."

A Central Police Services advisory board will review several candidates to replace Cardarelli. Gorski will appoint one of three finalists recommended by the board.

Meanwhile, Cardarelli plans to spend his retirement doing some consulting work and spending a lot more time with his family. But he acknowledges that giving up his lifelong passion for police work will not be easy.

"To step down and out as a normal citizen is going to be a little difficult," he said. "I'll feel better, though, because I think I've left a lot of tools for police officers to use."

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