Cortland Police Officer Jesse Abbott grew up as a child swimming at Wickwire Pool in Cortland.
On Tuesday, after a child counted down “three, two, one,” Abbott and Police Chief Paul Sandy ran and leapt into the pool with children surrounding them to celebrate Abbott’s 21 years with the department and his pending retirement.
Oh, and they were in full uniform, sans equipment and shoes.
Abbott has served as the department’s Community Oriented Policing Officer since 2017, a role that has led him to build and maintain the department’s relationship with the public. This has been done through events like Shop with a Cop and Coffee with a Cop.
“It means a lot to be able to have that community interaction with the kids that are growing up in this generation now and just really be able to say thank you to the community for their support over the last 21 years,” Abbott said.
Free ice cream from Skippy’s Ice Cream was also available.
Monica Moore of Cortland, came to the pool with her son Trystyn Stone, 6, who had participated in the Shop with a Cop event in 2019. Police took Trystyn and other children to a store to buy Christmas presents for themselves and their families.
“It was an awesome experience for him,” Moore said. “He got to hang out with the cops that he loves.” Moore wished Abbott good luck on his retirement.
Sandy said it might be a while before Abbott’s position is filled because the department needs new officers. Still, the idea of community policing remains; other officers will maintain the department’s involvement in community events.
“But we will never be able to replace him in his innovative ideas,” Sandy said.
He also said events like Tuesday’s splash showed police officers are just like the general public.
“The uniform doesn’t define us,” he said. “We’re the guardians of our community, we stand between the evil that is trying to corrupt our society and the good people and we’re there to protect people. But we’re also there to let them know we’re just like you. We have families and we enjoy having fun.”
Following his retirement from the police, he will work as a sales representative for a wine and spirits company in Syracuse, he has said.
As for any messages Sandy has for Abbott?
“He’ll miss us,” Sandy said with a smirk.
Abbott said a formal retirement ceremony will be 3 p.m. Friday as he walks out of the police department one last time.
In dry clothes.