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Longtime Onondaga County sheriff announces retirement

Ellen Abbott/WRVO
Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh (right) announced his retirement, as Deputy Chief John Balloni (left) looks on.

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh announced Monday morning that e will retire after 20 years in the position.

While Walsh made the decision public at an event in downtown Syracuse, he said it's something he has known he would do for quite a while.

"I pretty much had made my decision at the end of the last election.  But I was not join going to commit one way or this other until I had to commit, in case things changed and I decided I wanted to do another term," said Walsh. "I didn't want to be accused of flip flopping."

Walsh said there have been many high points in his six terms overseeing the sheriff's department and county jail, not just one.

"I think the best thing that's happened in my career is the fact that I've been able to surround myself with some of the best and brightest people, and we've been able to hire some of the best and brightest people.  We've got 650 employees and all of them are top shelf," said the sheriff.

Walsh's retirement leaves the race for sheriff wide open. Walsh says he'll support John Balloni, one of his chief deputies, in his bid to get the Republican nomination.  Already, DeWitt Police Chief Gene Conway says he's looking for that GOP nod, and two Democrats -- Deputy Craig Dykes and retired deputy Toby Shelley -- say they'd like the job as well.  

Walsh says whoever wins will face continued financial pressures.

"The police department and sheriff's office is down 47 positions over the last few years, and the calls for service has not diminished. So they're going to have to work harder work smarter to be able to provide the level of service the people expect in this community."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.