Today will be the final Memorial Day service for Kevin Molinari as commander of New York State Police Troop C in Sidney. The 60-year-old Oneonta High School graduate will officially retire June 25. His last day at his post will be May 29.
“In retrospect I could not imagine doing anything else,” he said. “It’s been the most rewarding and enjoyable opportunity. You get a chance to make a positive change in people’s lives.”
He is stepping down now because 60 is the mandatory retirement age for the state police. He could retire any time during that year.
“I wanted to be present for an additional Memorial Day,” he said. “It’s one of the most enjoyable days” when retirees, and families of those who died are in attendance, he said. “It’s a time to renew old acquaintances and reassure families of those who have lost loved ones that they have not been forgotten.”
In retrospect, “It’s been a good career that was made possible by the great support of family,” he said. He also thanked those people who have worked behind him as major for making his tenure successful. “It’s all about people doing outstanding work.”
Molinari started his career Sept. 25, 1978. He hadn’t given a lot of thought to joining the state police, but when his brother, who was a trooper, told him about it, he decided to take the entrance exam.
“I scored well enough to get employment,” he said.
After graduating from the New York State Police Academy in Feb. 1979. He was assigned, as was customary, to three different barracks for 30 days each. They were in Ithaca, Endwell and finally Norwich. He was on permanent assignment there until he was able to transferred to the Oneonta barracks, which was something he wanted.
“I was born and raised in Oneonta. It’s a nice little town,” he said.
Since his days as a trooper, from 1979 until 1984 when he was promoted to sergeant, the job has changed a lot over the years, he said. There’s no longer the level of respect for police officers, and the increase in drug use has led to an increase in violence.
On the other hand, the advancement of technology over the years has been a major improvement. Surveillance cameras in public areas are a great tool, he said. Technology and forensic work have given law enforcement a significant edge in fighting crime and identifying perpetrators. When he was starting out, such technology “could only be imagined,” he said.
Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor has gotten to know Molinari during his 18-year career on the force.
“He has always been helpful,” he said.
When Nayor attained his command in 2012, Molinari called him and offered to provide any assistance needed.
“It spoke well for his leadership abilities,” Nayor said. “In this era of policing, one of the most important things we can do is have good partnerships with other agencies. The major has been a great resource for me.”
He was confident whoever is selected to replace him will carry on that tradition.
Molinari said what he will miss most is the interaction with the troopers and talking with them about such things as the job, personal life and families.
“They have to provide the highest level of service to the public,” he said, “but nothing should come before their families.”
When he became a lieutenant in 1988, he was sent to Troop K in Westchester.
“It was a wonderful experience but it just wasn’t home,” he said. He spent the weekdays sleeping in the Poughkeepsie barracks, and come back to Oneonta where his wife, Linda, was raising their two children, Meghan and Michael.
He came back to Troop C June of 1989, assigned as zone commander in Binghamton. In 1992 he was promoted to captain and transferred to Troop C headquarters in Sidney in 1992. He was assigned as zone commander in Oneonta Sept. 1994 and became major Dec. 2006.
Among his most memorable events over the years was being assigned to work the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. This included watching the U.S. Hockey team win the gold medal.
“It was a wonderful experience,” he said.
He feels “blessed” to be part of an organization that allows him to work with “with so many great professionals who are completely dedicated as public servants.”
His lowest points have been the times when a member of the troop has died. This includes May 20, 1994 when Investigator Ricky Parisian was killed, while trying to stop an Oneonta supermarket robbery while off duty.
“I remember that as though it was yesterday,” Molinari said.
He does not know who his replacement will be. That will be determined by the state police superintendent, after his retirement becomes official.
Retirement plans call for Molinari and his wife to move to the home they own near Charlotte, N.C. Both of their children live nearby.
He won’t miss the cold winters and the couple plan on visiting Oneonta regularly.
Molinari said he has worked since he is 8 years old, when he delivered newspapers for The Daily Star, so he does not plan on finding traditional employment when he retires.
He plans on volunteering, maybe in a hospital or church, to keep busy. He and his wife enjoy outdoor activities. “We’ve put that off raising children,” he said. They will now have an opportunity to “enjoy life” do some traveling.