BY LAUREN KATE ROSENBLUM
After 20 years as Sheriff, James Kralik is retiring and moving to Pennsylvania. Lawmakers, police officials in full uniform, along with the sheriff’s mounted unit and several police dogs, gathered to give a final fair well last Thursday at a ceremony in New City. James F. Kralik, now 68, started with the Rockland County Sheriff’s office 49 years ago. During that time, he served as chief of patrol for 20 years, before being elected sheriff in November of 1991. He was then reelected in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007.
Known for his humor, Kralik did not disappoint as he greeted all who attended the ceremony. “I thought I would start off by telling you how we had planned to make this a more enjoyable event.. we had planned to have four of the officers dress up in Rockland County jail suits and run behind me towards to the road as the ceremony was going on… we decided we better nix it because 100 guns could appear.”
But all humor aside, James Kralik will more be remembered for the steps he took to unify Rockland’s police and bring federal funding to the area.
He started back in November of 1962 and “the first night, I had to be told my shift was over and to come in,” Kralik said. He immediately became aware of how each town police department was separate from one another and refused to work over town lines. “There was an imaginary line that was a true barrier,” Kralik said, adding, “that is not what I think we should be doing, so I spent my whole law enforcement career trying to change that”
Now, after years of work to unify Rockland, “Whenever we need each other, we are there. No questions asked, no foolishness, no ignorance, no stupidity, just making sure that the people are safe. How magnificent is that? How wonderful is that?”
Kralik also pulled in $16 million of federal grant money to be distributed throughout law enforcement in Rockland. The soon to be retired sheriff concluded his speech by saying, “To my sheriff’s officers, from police, to correction, to civil, to reserve… I want you to know that my heart tells me that it has been a true pleasure to work with you, you are magnificent.”
What does the future hold for James Kralik? In his own words, “I am going to become an American cowboy, I rode in rodeos believe it or not.” Kralik owns a horse farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where he has 35 horses. He will spend his retirement giving historic horseback tours of Gettysburg, the site of the Civil War’s turning point.
County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef spoke for many when he said, “Gettysburg’s gain is Rockland’s loss.”