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GUILDERLAND — In September 2018, Guilderland Police Chief Carol Lawlor said she had much to do before retirement. Fifteen months later, she’s ready to hang up her shield.
The 63-year-old chief, who became the first female police chief in 2008 after a brief interim, will step down in mid-January. Daniel McNally will assume the position.
“I’m looking forward to doing more traveling and getting to relax some more,” Lawlor said. “We are going to spend some more time in Maine.”
Lawlor credits her success to her “wonderful” force, who are as much a part of the decision making as she is. Lawlor said the team will sit down and have open discussions about what needs to be done. She understands you can’t do it all, and she’s willing to accept help.
“We provide such a solid service for residents and I’m really proud of the force we have here,” she said.
Lawlor steadily rose up the ranks to where she is now. For 29 years, she rose up the ranks — starting as an officer at age 21, steadily rising up from officer to police sergeant, police lieutenant and finally, as acting police chief after the former chief retired. She recalled the period when she was being considered for chief overwhelming because “it was clear a couple of town board members did not want me.”
Lawlor was born to be a public servant and knew she wanted to do police work from a young age, she said. Her mother, a public servant who worked for the town, is one of her biggest inspirations. Her father, a salesman, is her other big inspiration — she credits her parents’ kind nature and example as the reason she decided to enter the world of public service.
“I was a regular kid that wanted to help people,” she said. “When I went to college, I had an internship with a small police department, and then I rode with police once in a while. I worked dispatch for a period, too.”
Lawlor is known, amongst many things, for being Guilderland’s first female chief and she said it hasn’t been an issue for years, stating her team is used to having a woman in charge. “It’s become such a normal thing,” she continued.
The equestrian looks forward to seeing her former coworkers around town after retirement. As a resident, she will have a front row seat to what comes next. But, she stresses she will no longer be chief and her days of stress are coming to a close.
“You have to trust who you work with,” she said. “I trust my force. All of our officers are very well educated and highly trained; most have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. … I trust my force at the end of the day to make the best decision it can. I’m proud to say we have a great group of professional officers to keep this community safe.”