Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 1, 2014

Remembering, retiring and restructuring

Four veteran Lockport officers choose retirement and prevent layoffs

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It was an open and shut case. Or at least it was supposed to be.

Lockport Police found a man covered in blood, telling police his girlfriend Peggy Wright was stabbed to death in her bed. The man became the prime suspect, as he was covered in her blood and prior to the murder was using the knife in the kitchen.

Capt. Rick Podgers remembers working the crime scene, reading what had happened and noticed something. The person who had committed the murder had also severely cut himself. The suspect at the time did not have any wounds.

A little while later, police had ex-husband Thomas Wright in custody for the murder. He was supposed to be in parole in Texas, but was found in Grand Island.

With a severe cut to his hand.

”It was a huge case,” Podgers said.

With his law enforcement career minutes away from ending Monday afternoon, Podgers said the Wright case is one he’ll remember for a long time.

Memories and handshakes turned into tears and hugs Monday as the Lockport Police Department ceremonially walked Podgers, Lt. Scott Seekins and Lt. Dave Barrancotta out of the building and into their retirement as civilians. The three were surrounded and applauded by community members, fellow law enforcement, family and friends.

The three veteran officers are leaving with more than a combined 103 years of experience between them. And that’s not including Officer Joseph Brown, who retired a few weeks ago after 27 years with the department. He wasn’t present for the brief ceremony Monday.

Mired in fiscal turmoil, the City of Lockport’s 2014 budget calls for cutting 15 positions, four of which are police officers. But, the four early retirements and a department restructuring prevented the need for layoffs keeping the newer officers at LPD.

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