Peekskill Police Chief Don Halmy is turning in his badge and returning to a school setting.
Halmy, who was officially appointed chief of the city force in December 2018 after serving nine months on a provisional basis following the departure of Eric Johansen, recently announced he would be retiring on September 25.
Halmy was hired as a patrol officer in Peekskill in 1999, earned the title of sergeant in 2009 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2017.
“While it is never easy to say goodbye, I feel I leave the Police Department in good hands with strong leadership candidates among the ranks. I believe will all my heart the Peekskill Police Department is one of the finest in this country, and I will always be proud to know that I was a part of this great law enforcement agency,” Halmy said.
In his resignation letter, Halmy, who noted he has accepted a position in the private sector at a school, wrote, “I have given this decision much thought, and as I grow older, I am constantly reminded that life is too short, and before I leave this big blue marble, there are other things that I’d like to accomplish.”
Halmy grew up in Queens and worked for many years in management positions at the Bronx Zoo. He was also employed as a New York City school teacher, working in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, which he has quipped was difficult for a Mets fan.
During his time in Peekskill, Halmy believes the city has become safer and “more harmonious.” He cautioned it is essential to preserve and appreciate the city’s history, especially integrating a diverse population.
Halmy played a leadership role in the city’s Police Reform Task Force and the department made several improvements under his watch in communications, training, equipment and procedures.
Mayor Andre Rainey said Peekskill will miss Halmy in many ways.
“We will severely miss his integrity, compassion, empathy, mental agility, and commitment to this city,” Rainey said. “We desperately need great police officers. Now more than ever, we need people who care about the job and build rapport with the public, as Chief Halmy does. Though the city will miss him, I enjoyed working with him and learning all I did from his experience, patience and knowledge. He is a very proactive and humble person, and I wish him nothing less than success in his future endeavors.”
Valerie Eaton, president of the Peekskill NAACP Branch #2170, gave Halmy high praise, saying “he has been a greater champion of change than we have seen in Peekskill coming out of the Police Department.”
“The recent push to reform the police was not met with resistance but rather an open communication channel towards change,” Eaton said. “His leadership and noteworthy love for the officers while trying to appease a community in unrest with the rest of the nation should be applauded. We hope that his shoes are filled with someone who will match and, if possible, surpass his efforts to match our city’s diversity and institute equality and reform to be modeled across the nation.”
Peekskill hopes to appoint a successor to Halmy in the near future.