Cortland County Sheriff set to retire after 47-year tenure

CORTLAND, N.Y. — After spending nearly half a century as a law enforcement officer in Cortland County, Lee Price is turning in his badge.

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The outgoing sheriff received a certificate of recognition Thursday during a meeting of the Cortland County Legislature.

Price is leaving his post at the end of this year. He was first appointed deputy sheriff in the department in 1968 and would go on to become a sergeant, lieutenant and an undersheriff before finally being elected sheriff in 2000.

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Cortland County Sheriff Lee Price, left, receives the county flag from Jeremy Boylan, clerk of the Cortland County Legislature. Price is retiring at the end of this year and Boylan is leaving the legislature to work for Bailey Place Insurance (Peter Blanchard/Cortland Voice).

Price is credited with implementing several public safety programs, including Project Lifesaver, a prescription drug takeback program and a community overdose prevention program. He also served as the county's Stop DWI coordinator.

Despite what many would consider to be a successful career, Price said he wish he could have done more to curb crime during his time as sheriff.

"I'd like to apologize to the people of Cortland County," Price told legislators. "You know, when you grow a garden, you want to make the garden prosper. I'm leaving the county in worse shape than [when] I took it. The crime rate's up, and I feel terrible about that ... I just wish I could've done a little bit better."

Price has been a strong proponent of building a new jail, saying overcrowding at the existing facility has become a financial burden on taxpayers.

Mark Helms, currently the police chief for the Village of Homer, won a tight race for Cortland County sheriff in the November election.

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