BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — After 23 years with the Buffalo Police Department, Captain Jeff Rinaldo is turning in his badge.
"When you first get into the police academy, they tell you you just won a front row ticket to life," said Captain Jeff Rinaldo.
Thursday was a bittersweet day for Rinaldo.
"I said this before I would have done this job for free," he said. "I'm proud of the department. No matter what anyone says, this is the finest police department around."
At a young age growing up in Buffalo, Rinaldo says he always looked up to the men and women in blue. His brother, a retired Buffalo Police Detective was his inspiration.
"He would come home and I would be playing with his handcuffs," he said of his brother when he was a child.
In July of 1998 at the age of 23, Rinaldo entered the force as a D District Police Officer. He has held many different jobs through the department, serving as a community police officer, being promoted to detective in 2008 and captain in 2017.
For the past six years, he has been the face of the department in good times and in bad.
He says throughout his time as department spokesperson, he tried to help break down various aspects of police work for the community to understand.
Law enforcement is a profession that has come under fire in the years since Rinaldo entered the force. He says despite all the negative publicity officers get on a daily basis across America, it's the most rewarding profession there is.
"I think if people really understood the level of dedication, they would appreciate the service these officers do day in and day out," he said.
He says his decision is purely family-related as his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Rinaldo says he wants to focus on his time at home, and the family business. He says his retirement has nothing to do with the politics at Buffalo City Hall.
And when he finally turns in his badge on Thursday, he says it will be bittersweet.
"It's been a great ride," he said.