Retiring Det. Sgt. Kevin Czora said he had to continually pinch himself as he performed his day-to-day tasks as a member of the Batavia City Police Department.
“Every day for the last 20 years, when I would pull into the parking lot, I would still get those chills like ‘I can’t believe that I’m actually coming here right now to work.’ And I’m thankful that I never lost that feeling,” Czora said during brief comments earlier today at a retirement party at police headquarters on West Main Street.
Czora continued by encouraging his colleagues, many of whom were in attendance, with some simple advice:
“Take care of each other and take care of yourselves,” he said. “There’s a lot of stress and a lot of hard times that come with the job, so make sure you take care of each other and enjoy your job. Don’t let the negative attitudes get to you. Love what you do.”
A feeling of togetherness filled the second-floor meeting room where lunch and a special cake were provided.
An Amherst High School graduate, Czora completed a 20-year stint with the Batavia PD, with his last day today. He received a plaque from the department and a unique wooden flag from Steven Robinson, Genesee County emergency services dispatcher.
Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said as soon as he met Czora in 2012, he realized that he would be someone he could count on.
“Right away I knew that Kevin was going to be a go-to guy. He was very knowledgeable and did not have any qualms about trying to do new things, try different techniques, different tactics,” Heubusch said. “Kevin has always been kind of an innovator when it comes to that.
Heubusch said Kevin displayed a positive attitude, and noted that the “professionalism and integrity that he brings to the department is bar none. He’s beyond reproach.”
Czora came to Batavia after working with the Federal Reserve as a protections officer.
“When I started here, I didn’t even know how to get to Batavia from the Buffalo area and knew nothing about the community or the department, or even the county,” he said. “Over the years, it has grown into my second home. I have a lot of passion not for just this department but for the community itself.”
He worked his way up from a police officer on the afternoon shift and then to the midnight shift. In time, he earned the rank of sergeant and then detective sergeant.
While he didn’t want to share any particular moments on the job, he did mention that the “camaraderie and the family atmosphere that this department creates has been the most memorable part of it.”
“There have been a number of situations, but as now-retired Detective Rich Schauf mentioned at his retirement, for every memory that you have, there’s a victim on the other side of it, and that’s something that you have to keep in mind and respect. So, even though I have some personal memories, I’m going to keep them personal.”
Czora resides in Amherst with his wife, Lisa, a school teacher, and their sons, Andrew, 20, who is in the Marines, and Evan, 18, who will be enlisting in the Army in July.
He said he has no immediate future plans, but will “take a little time off to recoup from the career, take a mental break and (eventually) I’ll find something to keep my hands busy.”
Czora said he plans to continue playing ice hockey (he’s been a goalie for the past 45 years) and will find time to do some boating.
Heubusch announced that Sgt. Matt Lutey will move into the detective sergeant position, replacing Czora, effective Jan. 7.
The chief said that Sgt. Chris Camp, a 12-year employee, will move into the Assistant Chief post, replacing Todd Crossett, who has accepted a police officer position with the VA Medical Center in Batavia. Camp also will be in charge of the emergency response team, and Officer Mitch Cowen will be promoted to sergeant on Jan. 31.
Photos from top -- Kevin Czora, right, and Chief Shawn Heubusch enjoy a story from retired Batavia Police Officer Pat Mooney at today's retirement party for Czora; Steve Robinson presents Czora with a commemorative flag; Czora and his fellow officers gather for a group picture. Photos by Mike Pettinella.