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Buckner resigns as Syracuse police chief, Cecile to take over department

Ellen Abbott
Syracuse Police First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile, center, is introduced as the new police chief Friday afternoon

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced Friday that Kenton Buckner has resigned as police chief, and that First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile would take over the department.

Walsh made the announcement Friday afternoon during a press conference at the Syracuse Public Safety Building. Buckner, in a statement, said he was resigning for personal reasons. He was in the running for the police chief job in Olympia, Washington, but he has withdrawn from that position.

"I made this decision for personal reasons and am confident it is the best choice me at this time," Buckner said.

Cecile has been with the department since 1985, and has served as a deputy chief since 2010. Cecile was a finalist for the chief's job that Buckner won in 2018.

"Joe Cecile is an innovative, collaborative and forward-thinking leader who motivates others to work toward successful solutions. He is respected by both members of the force and the community,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh in a statement. “I have had the honor of working closely with Chief Cecile for the past decade and have seen his strength of character, leadership and commitment to the community up close and personal. It is for these reasons that I believe Joe Cecile will make an excellent Chief of Police for our City and is the right person to continue to lead.”

Walsh praised Buckner as a forward-thinking chief.

"Chief Buckner’s management style always looked to the future," Walsh said. "Because of that, our department is strong and prepared to keep our community safe and continue the progress he began

Cecile begins his tenure as chief immediately.

Statement from (former) Police Chief Kenton Buckner

Dear City of Syracuse Residents: 

Serving as Chief of Police for the City of Syracuse has been a tremendous personal and professional honor. Over the past three years, along with the great people of the Syracuse Police Department, I have worked to provide professional and compassionate service in an overall effort to reduce crime.  We have increased diversity, increased training, and made transparency a pillar of our organization. 

It is widely known that earlier this year, I entered the search process for a Chief of Police job in Olympia, Washington. Earlier today, I withdrew my name from consideration for that position. I made this decision for personal reasons and am confident it is the best choice me at this time.

I also believe it is the right time for me to resign as Chief of Police in Syracuse. As I have pursued the position in Olympia over the past several weeks, we have prepared for the potential that I may leave the department. That process has progressed to the point that I believe it is in the best of the department that I allow the transition to move forward. I have also reached the conclusion that I am ready to move on to a next stage in my career. The time is right for Syracuse and for me. As such, I have submitted my resignation as Syracuse Police Chief.

I am deeply grateful to Mayor Walsh, Deputy Mayor Owens and the City of Syracuse for giving me the opportunity to serve here. It has been an honor to work alongside such outstanding law enforcement professionals in the SPD and this region and to be assisted by so many caring and effective community partners. I came in with a high regard for the strength of the Syracuse Police Department and leave with even greater optimism for its future.

Mayor Walsh will have an announcement later today on the leadership of the Syracuse Police Department. I trust in the Mayor’s decisions, and the men and women who serve you  every day.  Syracuse will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Thank you and god bless you all. ​

-Chief Buckner 

Statement from Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh

“Chief Buckner has served Syracuse with excellence during the past three years. During his tenure as chief, the Department has made major progress in its policies and procedures, recruiting and diversity on the force, and community engagement,” said Mayor Walsh. “He led our department through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was proud to partner with him in embracing the police reform movement as an opportunity accelerate further improvements in police, public safety and community relations. Chief Buckner’s management style always looked to the future. Because of that, our department is strong and prepared to keep our community safe and continue the progress he began.”