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Sheriff leaves a legacy of public service

Albany County Sheriff James Campbell said that it is time for a younger generation to take over as he ended his 21 years of service by announcing his retirement on Thursday, June 2, at the Albany County Courthouse.

I didn't advertise it publicly, the 71-year-old said, adding that he has been thinking of retiring for the past year. "I was getting used to going to the Price Chopper when everyone asked me, 'Hey, when the hell are you going to retire?' It's probably been one term too long."

Campbell, who has been with the sheriff's department for 45 years, said the Democratic Party and his staff helped him run one more time. On Thursday, he said enough is enough, and that his retirement will begin on June 23, at which point Undersheriff Craig Apple will serve as sheriff until a special election is held.

Some called the announcement sudden, but Campbell said it was actually a long time coming. Although questions were raised about whether his health was becoming an issue, Campbell said that despite having prostate cancer three years ago, he is doing fine.

"I've got a clean bill of health so it's not a health issue," he said. "Thank God, but I don't want it to be an issue."

As Campbell looked back on his tenure, he said there may have been a few things he would have done differently, but some things were handled very well, he said, referring to the Amadou Diallo murder trial in 1999, in which four New York City police officers were charged with killing the unarmed Diallo. The trial, which attracted media from all over the world, was moved to Albany County, and local law enforcement received high praised from the prosecutors the defense for keeping the peace.

"That, to me, was one of the most important things in my time," he said.

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