December 6, 2021

New Cortland police officers to engage with community

Photo provided by Cortland Police Dept.

Officers Austin Fiske, left, Joseph Saladino, Chief F. Michael Catalano, and officers Kristyn Drake and Kory Olson stand recently outside the Cortland Police Department. The four newest officers are either in field training or recently began full duty.

Cortland police officers Kristyn Drake and Joseph Saladino became police officers because they wanted to make a difference.

“Law enforcement was always something I could see myself doing,” Saladino said. “I always had aspirations of entering and bettering a community.”

Despite challenging times during the coronavirus pandemic and concern of police trust, the two will work to do their part as the two newest members of the Cortland police department.

Drake and Saladino join officers Kory Olson and Austin Fiske as the most recent hires by the police department.

Drake and Saladino both graduated from the Broome County Law Enforcement Academy at the end of October, Lt. David Guerrera said. They’ll undergo field training until the end of December.

Fiske and Olson have been serving on patrol for the last couple of weeks.

“They’ve all been really good,” Guerrera said.

Drake, of Tully, said she wanted to join the Cortland Police Department because she grew up nearby and spent lots of time in Cortland.

“Cortland, I felt like, is the best for me,” she said.

The biggest challenges she sees are compliance with mask wearing and other COVID guidelines, along with police officers adjusting how they interact with people to abide by the guidelines, she said.

Drake said she plans a 20-year police career, perhaps getting involved with the canine unit, but today, her priority is to be accountable and build public trust.

“I always want to make sure I give respect and am trustworthy,” she said.

Saladino similarly said that he became a police officer to help change communities for the better.

“I’m glad it’s Cortland,” he said.

Saladino said that he’s adjusting to working through the pandemic by wearing masks and being aware of potential spreading hotspots. For him, succeeding means putting the public first.

“If you just do the right thing and have the people’s best interest in mind, you’ll be successful,” he said.

As for now, Saladino looks forward to when he can be on his own as a patrol officer come December.

Fiske and Olson see building trust as important right now.

“It’s definitely a unique time right now,” Fiske said. Part of his training included diversity training and how to interact with people during the pandemic.

Improving public trust will require good interactions with local residents in a community-oriented fashion.

Olson agreed.

“You have to know people to get a little better,” he said.