CANAJOHARIE — At the dawn of a new beginning, there’s another new beginning on the way.
Raymond Renzi, 33, spent his first day as village police chief on Tuesday. Soon, he’s expected to spend his first day as a father of three.
“This [job] was a lot closer to home and my family is growing,” said Renzi. “We actually have another baby due in a couple days.”
The Canajoharie born-and-bred resident previously served eight years full-time on Amsterdam’s force. Over time, he grew tired of his commute back and forth both ends of Montgomery County — about an hour-long round trip.
In the beginning, he was navigating unfamiliar territory.
“Going into it, you didn’t really know anybody [in Amsterdam],” he said. “Of course, over time that transition comes, but in Canajoharie, I grew up here so it’s easier.”
Appointed at the village board’s July meeting was Renzi, who immediately started transitioning into the role with help from now-chief emeritus Bryan McFadden. Village officials were aware that McFadden planned to step away as soon as the new administration took charge in early spring.
McFadden officially retired from full-time work on Monday after nine years as chief and more than 20 non-consecutive years on the village force.
“I work for myself many days alone and so will [Renzi],” McFadden said. “It is what it is, but it’s a young man’s game … or a younger man’s game.”
Four officers staff the tiny department. In Canajoharie, the chief also serves out on the ground.
Renzi welcomes the arrangement.
“I’m not sitting pushing papers all day, like a normal [administrative] chief would,” Renzi said. “I feel like the higher you go up in agency, the less contact you have with the public, but I’m happy I get to keep that by doing this.”
Meanwhile, McFadden plans on vacationing in Maine next week. During retirement, he wants to travel more to the Adirondacks and elsewhere in the country.
But professionally, he won’t be entirely out of the picture. The seasoned professional plans to serve as part-time sergeant.
“I have a very high affinity towards training new officers and getting the next generation with the right attitude,” McFadden said.
Law enforcement wasn’t always McFadden’s focus. Born in Sharon Springs, the Schoharie County native worked on his family farm until the land was sold in 1994.
Before coming to Canajoharie in 1999, he had worked for law enforcement units in Schoharie County, the town of Schoharie and Montgomery County. He briefly left Canajoharie for a short run on Cobleskill’s village force in 2009.
“I liked having an effect on where my children grew up, the community and for me, it was very much about quality of life for people,” McFadden said.
Such a career path, McFadden maintained, has been packed with mixed emotions. On a sour note, he recalls dealing with “some people who are truly corrosive to the soul.”
His favorite moment occurred on Christmas day in the early 2000s when a 96-year-old woman reported her outdoor house light vandalized. The fixture was blown out and McFadden, responding to the scene, helped fix it. She chatted for hours and hours about her roots in the turn-of-the-century Mohawk Valley.
The officer planned to visit again, but he was too late. She died the next week.
The situation has since served as a lesson for McFadden.
“You have to savor the moments and you can’t just let people pass you by in your life,” McFadden said. “I’ve used that a lot in my life since then because she was just a charming woman and it seems so horrible for her to be there by herself.”
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or X @TylerAMcNeil.