Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

January 1, 2014

Remembering, retiring and restructuring

Four veteran Lockport officers choose retirement and prevent layoffs

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — All of the retirees had no intention of leaving early, but they each made the decision in part because of a retirement incentive and because the move would help save the jobs of the cops with lower seniority, Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert said.

”It really speaks to their character,” he said.

Officers will be promoted to replace Podgers, Seekins and Barrancotta. But, replacing the three of them will be challenging, Eggert said.

”That kind of experience can’t be replaced,” he said.

Eggert said Podgers has a knack for looking through a scene and being able to determine what took place.

Podgers was the first law enforcement officer in Niagara County to really embrace the technique of crime scene investigations, Eggert said. That includes using DNA, fingerprints and photography.

With his experience on the Niagara County Major Crime Strike Force, Podgers was the guy others in law enforcement would come to for crime scene investigation help, Eggert said.

Podgers, who became chief of detectives in 2007, estimated he had worked on about 40 homicides, closing all but three of them.

Aside from the Wright case, he said the work on the long, unsolved 1987 murder of Lockport woman Suzanne Korcz he’ll remember. The trail led to serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells who was on death row in Texas.

”We’ve had an excellent success rate,” Podgers, 60, said.

Seekins was the International Association of Chiefs of Police 2003 Officer of the Year. It was a national honor bestowed upon him for his actions in the February 2003 shooting rampage of Jason Kanalley, a six-hour event that started at a city bar and ended in the Woodlands trailer park on South Transit. 

Kanalley shot one person on Feb. 8 and then showered the Niagara Hotel with bullets. Later that night in a standoff, Kanalley shot Eggert and officer Steve Ritchie. Armed with only a handgun, Seekins shot Kanalley in the foot, providing cover for his fellow officers until backup arrived.

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