TRUMANSBURG, N.Y. — Officers from departments across Tompkins County came out Monday to honor Thomas Ferretti, who has dedicated 51 years of his life to law enforcement and the community.
Surrounded by friends and family Monday at Kendal at Ithaca, Ferretti received the Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award from the Kiwanis Club of Ithaca-Cayuga.
Ferretti was chief of police in Trumansburg for 42 years. He also served four-and-a-half years in the Navy and was a sergeant in the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office for several years.
“Chief, on behalf of the Village of Trumansburg, thank you for your years and years of dedication,” Rordan Hart, mayor for Trumansburg said. “When I think about law enforcement, not being in law enforcement myself, I think about the sacrifices that you all make. I think about the sacrifices that your families make, and I think about the fact that you do it for a period of time. You do it for sometimes a long period of time, but there’s always that finish line that you plan to get to someday. When I think about 51 years, a half a century in law enforcement. That’s longer than most people dream of having any type of career.”
Ferretti submitted his intent to retire June 12, and his retirement went into effect Aug. 1.
Matthew Van Houten said Ferretti leaves behind a legacy of treating people with respect and dignity in the community. Many officers at the event, stationed at various departments locally, said they trained under Ferretti early in their careers. More than 70 officers have trained under Ferretti, Van Houten said.
“I think his reputation is that he wants to treat everyone in the community with respect and with dignity no matter what the situation,” Van Houten said. “Passing that on to his officers is really an incredibly important thing in this day and age and that’s such a valuable lesson.”
Ferretti was born in Buffalo, but grew up in Tompkins County. He has also had some interesting side jobs, like driving a school bus, which he said he really enjoyed to get to know the kids in town. He is also treasurer for Cops, Kids and Toys, a multi-agency effort in Tompkins County that collects and distributes toys for children in need during the holidays.
At the station, on the road or at home, Ferretti was always tuned into what was happening in the village, his son Thomas Ferretti Jr. said.
“He’s probably the only officer I know that has a police line that rings directly into their home,” Ferretti Jr. said. Police radios were always on in the background at home or in the car.
“My dad’s dedicated,” he said. “He’s done more than just being a cop. He’s take phone calls in the middle of the night, helped people with their furnace in the middle of the night, older individuals that needed help. I just know that he’s really dedicated himself 110 percent. Probably retiring was the hardest thing he’s done.”
Cayuga Heights Police Chief James Steinmetz said 80 percent of his staff has worked for Ferretti at some point, including himself. He said Ferretti’s dedication is well known around the county.
“I remember in the early ’90s when I worked for you car video cameras were just coming into existence, well not in Trumansburg, we had one of those,” Steinmetz said. “It was a VHS tape recorder that you velcroed to the dash and we’d take that out each time. So he was always on the forefront. We might not have had the most modern equipment, but we did what we could with what we had.”
What kept Ferretti on the job all those years? He said the community and he enjoyed the work.
“Basically I just liked it,” Ferretti said. “I liked helping people and especially youth and anybody.”
Ferretti thanked everyone for coming and his family for being supportive. He also wished the new incoming police chief well. Bruce “Joe” Nelson, who worked for New York State Police for 26 years, is taking over the post.
Featured image: From left, Jackie Ferretti, Thomas Ferretti, Mimi Melegrito, president of Kiwanis of Ithaca-Cayuga and District Attorney Matthew Van Houten. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)