As the New Year approaches, the Rochester Police Department is preparing to celebrate a milestone of its own.
The RPD is turning 200 years old and Spectrum News will be highlighting some of the department's special events scheduled throughout 2019.
One room holds a wealth of information that spans two centuries of the RPD. There are stories tucked inside the many boxes, filled with police photographs and memories of officers who have passed away.
"Our joy is to let people know the history, the sacrifices that a lot of the officers made, this community itself and how they helped the city over the years," said retired RPD Capt. Lynde Johnston.
Capt. Johnston came out of retirement to lead a special committee to work on ways to commemorate the police department's bicentennial. Committee members agreed that an anniversary badge would be a fitting tribute and so they recreated one from the late 1800s.
"One of our officers great grandfather's was the chief, so he had his badge and they were able to make the mold from that badge," Johnston said.
RPD worked with a local supplier to replicate and produce the badges.
"So what we wanted to do is try and get as faithful to that model as we could without going way off and making it too stylish and by the time we were done with different variations, it turned out we came to an almost identical of the original badge," said Michael Cohn, NY Police Supply, Inc.
Orders are piling up as the officers will wear the badges throughout the upcoming year. And it's not just for current officers either. Even retirees like Ralph Gangliano want in on the historic celebration.
"Mine's gonna be added to my shadow box and I'll have it in there," said Gangliano
The bicentennial will kick off with the unveiling of an eagle that once sat atop a precinct building on Garson Avenue. A commemorative flag flies outside the chief's office and Christmas ornaments will be sold to officers and the public.
As the Rochester Police Department prepares to mark its 200th anniversary, it also plans to honor those officers who died in the line of duty, while protecting our community.
"They shouldn't be forgotten so we dug up everything we could find; photographs, and newspaper articles, death certificates — we went out and located all their grave sites to pay homage and we're going to do that during the centennial," said Johnston.
Spectrum News will share the stories of those 15 fallen officers throughout the new year as part of the bicentennial.
The Rochester Police Department says there will be many ways the community can get involved to mark the 200th anniversary and all proceeds from the upcoming events will go to the Special Olympics of New York.
"The Rochester police department prides ourselves as being a major part of this community, not just in uniform but even outside of uniform," said interim RPD chief Mark Simmons. "Our officers volunteer and come in the city all the time to give back to the people which we serve. So this is an opportunity for the whole community to celebrate our police force."