Jul 29, 2014
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Peekskill Fire, Police Chiefs Honored for Years of Service

Peekskill police Chief Eugene Tumolo, who is retiring at the end of this year, and fire Chief Lenny Varella, who is stepping down to become deputy fire chief, were honored during Thursday's Common Council meeting.

Peekskill Fire, Police Chiefs Honored for Years of Service

Eugene Tumolo has sworn in numerous officers during his tenure as Peekskill police chief 

But Thursday night's ceremony with Officer Khalia Carter was different. It was the last ceremony the 68-year-old Tumolo, who is set to retire at the end of this year, will preside over.

He was honored with a proclamation during Thursday's Common Council meeting.

"It's always been a huge part of my life," Tumolo said. "Not only being a cop, but so many of the decisions that I was a part of that impacted the people and the community."

Tumulo started in the department as a patrolman in 1968, before being promoted to detective in 1975 and lieutenant in 1985. He became chief in 1994.

Tumolo said he had contemplated retiring the last few years, but it was at the end of last year when he knew it was time to leave.

 "There is a time when you know that you need to move on and turn things over to someone younger and that day came for me," Tumolo said. "You can't out stay your welcome. Over the last five or six years, a job opportunity came up that I turned down and I knew that the day was going to come."

Tumolo has  a wife, Heidi; three children; and six grandchildren. His immediate plan is to purchase property somewhere upstate .

"I love hunting and I love shooting sports," Tumolo said. "I've  always wanted a place just to escape and get away. That's been always been a  dream of mine." 

Tumolo also hopes to find some consulting work along the way. 

Police Lt. Eric Johansen, who will serve as interim police chief, said Thursday's ceremony was bittersweet.

"He became the chief right when I got hired, so I've always known him as chief," Johansen said. "To see him leave is gratifying in one way because I know that it's something that he's always longed for and he gets to spend the next chapter of life at home with his family. At the same time, I'm going to miss him." 

Tumolo said the biggest challenge he had to face in the department wasn't solving crimes, but it was dealing with different people on a daily basis.

"You have to understand why people are angry, you have to learn strategies to deal with that anger, deflect it and turn it into something positive to handle their problems," Tumolo said. "You watch television, with all these beautiful actors and actresses solving these crimes, and that's not the reality of it. The reality is being in these people's lives at the lowest point and trying to help them and make some semblance of order." 

Fire Chief Lenny Varella Honored for 36 Years of Service

Peekskill fire Chief Lenny Varella Jr. was honored during Thursday's meeting.

Varella, who's served three years as chief, is stepping down to become deputy chief. His replacement will be 1st Asst. Chief Robert Fiorio, who was elected to the position following the Dec. 8 fire elections.

"I'm still going to be active," said Varella, who owns a landscape supply business in the city.  "The guys are still going to need a lot of help. There are a lot of different committees that the guys are going to need help with. They're still going to need help raising money for the Fourth of July celebration, which is a big thing here in the city. I'm going to try and step up to the plate a little bit in that aspect." 

Varella, a graduate of Hendrick Hudson High School, joined the fire department in 1976 after he was encouraged by his father.

Varella thanked the city's administration, the firefighters he's worked with and his son, also named Lenny, for supporting him throughout the years.

He also thanked his wife, Barbara.

"We just had a fire on Harrison Avenue on Saturday and we were up Christmas shopping I responded to the call," Varella said. "She sat an hour and a half in the car while we operated at that fire. I mean, I've left her numerous times sitting in restaurants and so on and so forth over nine years...she's been great and very supportive and I appreciate it very much." 

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