Steve Rotunno was named chief of the North Syracuse Police Department in November. Previously a captain with the Camillus Police Department, Rotunno succeeds Mike Crowell, who left the village to become chief of the Manlius Police Department in October. (photo by Ashley M. Casey)
With less than 10 days under his belt at the North Syracuse Police Department, Chief Steve Rotunno is already planning to “bring the department to the next level.”
Rotunno, whom the North Syracuse Board of Trustees appointed Nov. 21, spent nearly his entire 29-year law enforcement career at the Camillus Police Department. He retired from there as a captain Nov. 30. Four days later, he started his new gig in North Syracuse.
“I am excited to work with the men and women of the North Syracuse Police Department and move into the future,” Rotunno told the Star-Review.
Rotunno plans to hit the bricks with Mayor Gary Butterfield to explore the village and introduce himself to residents and local businesses.
“My longstanding motto is ‘I’m here for you,’” Rotunno said.
Indeed, the most rewarding part of his law enforcement career is the “friendships that I’ve built over my 29 years, nor only with the law enforcement community but with the civilian community,” Rotunno said. Now, he is looking forward to building new relationships in North Syracuse.
Rotunno was bitten by the law enforcement bug after graduating from Westhill High School in 1984 when he joined the United States Air Force and New York Air National Guard.
“Being in the military, I made a lot of contact with civilian police officers,” he said. “I got the itch to be a civilian law enforcement officer.”
Rotunno spent 21 years in the military, retiring in 2005 as a First Sergeant with the Northeast Air Defense Sector Security Forces Squadron. He served overseas as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and his final appointment in 2005 was assisting with relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
His experience in the military proved invaluable in his law enforcement career, which began in Cicero in January 1988. In December of that year, he was hired by the Camillus Police Department.
“You need to have good balance as far as being able to balance whatever situations you may encounter,” he said.
Rotunno said good communication, patience and fairness are key to being a good police officer.
“A police officer needs to be fair. You need to be open-minded, but you need to be firm,” he said.
Rotunno lives in Camillus with his wife, Christy. The Rotunnos have four children: David, Kevin, Stephen and Meghan.
“I’m a strong believer that family comes first,” Rotunno said.
His devotion to family inspires his approach to his work.
“You should treat people the way you’d like other people to treat your family,” he said. “If you have that type of personality, you’d make a good police officer.”
Rotunno came armed with a list of goals for the North Syracuse PD. He wants to improve training, expand the department’s use of social media and enhance community policing.
“Social media’s a great way to communicate to the public,” he said. “For example, a car accident: If South Bay Road’s closed, we could tweet that out. … It’s short and simple.”
While some of the programs he’s borrowing from his time in Camillus are “top secret,” he said, Rotunno shared that one initiative he’s bringing over is sending welcome letters to people who move into the village to let them know about the police department’s community outreach.
In addition to his lengthy military and law enforcement career, Rotunno is a member of several related organizations. He is the chair for Counter Terrorism Zone 7, a member of the Onondaga County Traffic Safety Advisory Board and the treasurer of the Central New York Chiefs of Police Association. He said his greatest accomplishments are with the latter organization, especially helping organize its annual awards banquet.
“I look forward to recognizing the law enforcement and civilians … for heroic actions, commendations or great work a civilian may have done throughout the year,” Rotunno said. “It’s about the people and the fellow law enforcement officers throughout Central New York that make it a great place to live and work.”
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.